January 2021

The Pope kisses Slovene soil

The Pope kisses Slovene soil in a photograph by Tomi Lombar

The largest event, with the highest attendance, after Slovenia's independence was the first visit of Pope John Paul II, between 17 and 19 May 1996. From 1979 onwards, when he visited his native Poland for the first time as Pope and kissed the soil of his compatriots on arrival, the act of kissing the soil became traditional on entering a host country. Kissing the soil was like kissing a mother's hands, like kissing the earthly mother of the homeland and showing respect for her people.

The photograph presented here was taken on May 17, 1996 in Brnik. Delo photo-reporter Tomi Lombar, instinctively wanting to photograph the Pope's kiss on Slovene soil, left the podium for cameramen and photographers and imperceptibly mingled among the believers who were the first to welcome the Pope. He captured in his lens the moment of the Pope’s kiss. He received first prize in the Emzin Photo of the Year awards for this photo and for the photoreportage of the Pope's visit in 1997.