Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Joe Rosenthal, AP photographer and Catholic convert

US Marines Raising Flag on Mt. Suribachi, Feb. 23, 1943.  Photo taken by Joe Rosenthal, AP

The photo of the flag raising on Iwo Jima may be the most famous photo ever taken, and it won Joe Rosenthal a Pulitzer Prize.  Rosenthal was raised Jewish but converted to Catholicism during his youth.  Not surprisingly, he knew Fr. Charles Suver SJ, the Navy chaplain who celebrated Mass on the summit of Suribachi soon after the famous flag raising.  The battle for Iwo Jima would rage for another 31 days, so this was a pretty risky thing to do.

Marine receiving Communion from Fr. Suver on Mt. Suribachi

Rosenthal deeply respected Fr. Suver and the other Jesuit chaplains.   According to Rosenthal, “[t]he Jesuits were admired by all kinds of Marines. They would talk straight talk - ‘listen buddy, you can’t shock me with anything you can say’... If they found a dying Marine, they went right up there, as a matter of course.  They were as heroic as Marines...there was something about the manner of Jesuits.”

There are still plenty of chaplains doing heroic work on battlefields.  You can read the stories of a few of them here.

Joe Rosenthal

Rosenthal died in 2006 at the age of 94.

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