Rainbow at Auschwitz by Bill Gnade

Rainbow at Auschwitz

Bill Gnade on a Photograph Beyond a Thousand Words

The judges of the World Press Photo contest will not notice this photograph. The Pulitzer committee will not shortlist it. In fact, few will notice it, not because it lacks artistic merit but because it is too religious. To me, it is one of the most thoroughly Christian images ever made. But anyone antagonistic or indifferent to the Christian faith will see only colors, a man in a dress, a photo op.

It is almost as though the cosmos aligned in so grand a manner when this photo was taken that the mystics and astrologers are right in believing that the stars and suns and moons and clouds bespeak the presence of God. Everything had to come together in a moment that lasted no more than a second: the position of the sun, the clouds, falling water droplets, the slope of trees (dozens of years old), the bricks, the barbed wire; not to mention that the pope is at Auschwitz and it is raining and sunny, and the photographer is in the right place, crouched just so, with the right lens, the right shutter speed, the right aperture.

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Bill Gnade works as a writer, poet, and photographer in New Hampshire, where he lives with his wife and son. He holds a BA in philosophy and theology from Gordon College.

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