September 2000 John traveled to Italy and was greatly inspired
by the beautiful cathedrals and religious works by the great
masters. Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop Harry Flynn helped
John arrange a brief meeting with Pope John Paul while in
Vatican City. John has always had a great love and admiration
for Pope John Paul II. In a letter to artists, the Holy Father
gave his recognition for the great importance of art. He expressed
that society needs artists, just as it needs scientists, technicians,
workers, professional people, witnesses of the faith, teachers,
fathers and mothers.
drawings of faith are included here
From a special edition, Pope John Paul II - A Life
That Changed the World
The Church Needs Artists
By John Petermeier
In September of 2000, my father and I made a pilgrimage
to Italy. Several months earlier, Archbishop Harry Flynn
of Minneapolis and St. Paul had contacted the appropriate
Vatican officials on our behalf requesting an audience with
the Holy Father during our stay in Rome. The archbishop
had been very kind to us during the recent death of my mother.
While visiting in Rome, we were contacted by the Vatican
that a meeting with Pope John Paul would be granted. Our
meeting was brief, but an incredible experience. When it
came my turn to meet the Holy Father, I smiled and took
his hand. I was able to tell him that I loved him. He made
the sign of the cross on my forehead and said, "God
bless you." It seems his presence alone brings such
Since this encounter, I have been more attentive to the
words and activities of the Pope. Being a former art student,
I was especially interested in his recent letter to artists.
The Holy Father stressed the value and unique responsibilities
of artists, saying, "The Church needs artists, and
artists need the Church."
The Pope believed that artists have a responsibility to
our creator, to use our gifts for the good of humanity and
give back to God.
Since my visit to the Vatican, my art has been more focused
on the faith. In fact, I have even made several attempts
at drawing the Holy Father.
I truly believe this Pope was a great man. We are privileged
to have lived at the same moment in history as Pope John
Paul the Great.