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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
paper pontiff

John Paul II was so popular in the 1980s, he even had a dress-doll book dedicated to him...

You might still find this gem lurking on a bookshelf in your parents’ house…

AS THE MANY ‘JPs’ born in Ireland between the late 1970s and early 1990s can attest — Pope John Paul II was a massive figure in popular culture in the latter part of the 20th Century.

Soon to become a saint with the conclusion of this morning’s canonisation ceremony in St Peter’s Square — Karol Józef Wojtyla was one of the best-known and most travelled people in the world at the time.

So well-known was the former Bishop of Kracow, in fact, that a US publishing house felt he merited a dress-doll book dedicated to his life.

From the back cover of ‘Pope John Paul II: Paper Dolls in Full Color’:

Rarely has a modern religious leader captured the attention — and affection of so wide a public as has Pope John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyla).

His extensive travels and many public appearances have made him a figure of world renown and respect.

Tom Tierney’s fascinating collection of four finely rendered paper dolls, 19 costumes and accessories — all in full, authentic colour — recreate the Pope’s eventful life.

You’ll find young Karol Józef — with military school uniform, regular school clothes (and soccer ball), and altar boy’s robe.

You’ll see the university student — in theatrical costume recalling his days in an underground acting troupe, and dressed for labour in a stone quarry during the Nazi occupation.

There’s also dolls showing the full range of the former pope’s church career — including ordination robes, cassocks, cardinal’s attire and pretty much everything in between.

US Artist Tom Tierney — who has also created paper dolls dedicated to Princess Diana, John Wayne, Ronald Reagan and JFK, amongst others — began working as an illustrator in the 1950s.

He’s still working away (you can view his collections and purchase books here) and recently completed a book dedicated to Barack Obama.

We’re betting the JPII book is still sitting on a few Irish bookshelves this morning, 30 years after its publication…

Student life…

At work & in theatre…

Pontifical attire…

And ready for the slopes…

[All images: Tom Tiernan via Pope John Paul II: Paper Dolls in Full Color]

Read: Can’t make it to Rome? You can watch John Paul II’s canonisation live in 3D in Drumcondra

Read: Pope Francis gives two kids a lift on the PopeMobile and has the craic with them

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