Below is one of the most extraordinary videos you’ll see.

In the early 1890s, William Kennedy Dickson created one of the world’s first motion picture cameras in Thomas Edison’s laboratory in Menlo Park, NY.  Keen to show of the magical new technology, he traveled the world taking videos.

And in 1896, just a few years after he had invented the device, he made history by taking a short film of Pope Leo XIII at the Vatican.

This film is historic for at least three reasons:

First, it’s the first film ever taken of a pope. Before that, there were only photos (of his immediate predecessor, during whose reign photography was invented) and paintings.

Second, Leo XIII was 86 years old, having been born in 1810, making him one of the earliest-born people ever to have been filmed.

Lastly, the film captures what is probably the first papal blessing of a motion-picture camera!

The latter half of the video below has an audio recording of Leo XIII singing Ave Maria in 1903.


[See also: 8 Surprising Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Pope Benedict XVI]

[See also: Is John Paul II’s Ghost Behind Pope Francis? The Truth About This Viral Photo]

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