My colleague Andreas Widmer passes along this video of Pope Leo XIII, purportedly the oldest known video footage of a bishop of Rome. The video dates to 1896, and also includes the oldest known audio recording from 1903 of the pope chanting the Ave Maria.
Andreas is the author of The Pope & The CEO, which relates the lessons he learned as a member of the Swiss Guards during the papacy of John Paul II. With respect to the video of Leo XIII, Andreas writes, “at the end of the video (after 1:04) you see the Swiss Guards behind him in their old uniform. The current uniform, which is often mistakenly attributed to being designed by Michelangelo, was actually designed by a commander of the Guards around the turn of the 20th century – just a few years after this video was taken. Like any other army, the Swiss Guards went with the military fashions of the time, so their helmet in the video are the kind of Kaiser Wilhelm Helmet that was popular in those days.”
As a Reformed theologian, my thinking of the papacy of Leo XIII always reminds me of Abraham Kuyper, in part because of the remarkable year 1891, in which the encyclical Rerum novarum was promulgated and the First Christian Social Congress in Amsterdam was held. Abraham Kuyper, who would later serve as Prime Minister of the Netherlands, opened the congress with a memorable speech, available in English translation as The Problem of Poverty.
With that in mind, I also pass along the only video of which I am aware to capture Abraham Kuyper, shortly before his death:
You can read more about Leo XIII and Abraham Kuyper in the special issue of the Journal of Markets & Morality devoted to the proceedings of the “The Legacy of Abraham Kuyper & Leo XIII” conference held in 1998 at Calvin College, co-sponsored by the Acton Institute and Calvin Theological Seminary.