Lights, camera, pontiff! Behind the scenes at the Vatican

  • A Vatican Television Center camera frames a shot of the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square.
  • Inside the Vatican Television Center’s control room during a Sunday Mass broadcast on March 24, 2013.
  • Pope Francis enters the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square while being trailed by a Vatican Television Center cameraman on June 19, 2013.
  • A view of a dolly and video screen placed in the Sala Regia by the Vatican Television Center.
  • A camera on a crane in the Sala Regia at the Vatican.
  • VTC technicians adjust a camera in St. Peters Basilica before Christmas Mass.
  • Catholic faithful enter St. Peter’s Basilica for evening services, led by Pope Francis on Dec. 31, 2013.
  • Cameras are set up in the Sistine Chapel before the Papal Conclave in March of 2013, in which Pope Francis was elected.
  • Technicians and workers dismantle all the equipment and structures used by the Vatican Television Center and other news outlets for Pope Francis’s first Christmas Mass.
  • A Vatican Television Center technician directs a broadcast of Mass from the Vatican.
  • A Vatican Television Center cameraman films Pope Francis during a visit to the Cathedral of Cagliari in Sardigna in September of 2013.
  • A VTC camera records Pope Francis as he arrives for a Wednesday general audience at the Vatican in June of 2013.
  • VTC engineers move a camera through the halls of the Apostolic Palace of the Vatican in March of 2013.
  • A Vatican camera overlooking St. Peter’s Basilica during Christmas Mass at the Vatican.
  • Pope Francis arrives for a Wednesday general audience at the Vatican in June of 2013.

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Ever wonder what it’s like to go behind the scenes at the Vatican?

Gianluca Tullio, who is based in Italy, photographed a series of images that depict the Vatican Television Center, which Pope John Paul II commissioned in 1983. The former pontiff aimed to improve and expand the communication of the church while documenting the activities of the Catholic leader. The collection includes images taken on different occasions from February 2013 through February 2014. 

Tullio completed a large portion of the project last March, when Pope Benedict XVI resigned and Pope Francis was elected the next leader of the Catholic Church. Francisthe first Jesuit to assume the role of pontiff, promised to change the ways the Vatican conducts business. He has broken with his predecessors several times, saying the church cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptives, and asking, “Who am I to judge?” in response to reports of gay clergy members. And he has hopes to build showers for homeless men and women in Vatican City to ease their suffering.

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The current Catholic leader was named “Person of the Year” in 2013 by TIME magazine. He even posed for a selfie with youths during a meeting in St. Peter’s Basilica. He plans to visit the United States next year in his first trip to the country since he took control of the papacy.

Tullio mostly followed the center’s technicians and operators, who worked closely with the pope.

“My story tries to maintain a point of view at the same time ‘internal’ and ‘external,’ observing both the preparation of the size properly spectacular events and trying to catch them in the constant relationship between stage and backstage,” he said.

For more feature photography, go to msnbc.com/photography 

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