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Church towers emerging from the morning mists seen from the perspective of the sky, chapels radiant with the rising sun, roadside crosses and war cemeteries — this priest’s photos are breathtaking.
“The church with its soaring steeple connects the earth with the sky. Inside there is peace and tranquility, and the beautiful interior is reminiscent of heaven. All the people there are brothers and sisters, children of one God,” writes Fr. Marcin Gadek, a priest whose passion is landscape photography. He combines digitally captured images with evangelization.
An accidental discovery
This priest from Szerzyny (Poland) began his adventure with the camera while still in the seminary. He discovered his passion by accident. He started to have serious problems with his knees, which led to various surgeries. As part of his rehabilitation, Fr. Marcin began hiking in the mountains.
“Several orthopedists advised against it. They told me, ‘Find another passion.’ But I was stubborn,” he says. “And you could say that this stubbornness, and the fact that I met some great doctors and rehabilitators, saved my health, because the body has a great capacity to regenerate,” said Fr. Marcin in an interview on a Polish news website.
The beautiful mountain views begged to be photographed. At first the priest photographed landscapes and insects; over time he added churches, roadside shrines, and crosses to his repertoire. He bought a drone and obtained all the necessary permits to fly it and take photos.
International photography experience
A breakthrough moment for Fr. Marcin was when he met Polish photographer Piotr Skrzypec, who lives in Slovenia. At his invitation, Fr. Marcin traveled to the country and took part in extraordinary photo shoots.
“We visited churches not only in Slovenia, but also in Romania. The religious buildings there are located on hills, and because the people there have a different approach to faith than in our country, the churches are not renovated and retain their original appearance,” Fr. Marcin said in an interview.
Fr. Marcin admits that this passion teaches him patience, because out of many shots there may be only one that’s sharp and has nice lighting.
“Sometimes you go to take pictures and come back with nothing, but the fact of knowing the beauty of nature brings you closer to God and enriches you,” he explains. He adds that the photos he publishes are a kind of photographic retreat.
Churches from the perspective of heaven
He snaps photos of ordinary places that people often pass on our way to work or school. He wants to draw attention to the fact that since we live in a constant hurry we often don’t notice beauty. He publishes his photographs on Facebook on his “Churches from Heaven” (“Kościoły z nieba”) page. Under each photo he posts, he adds a description with information about the subject and location. He often adds a short history of the place, a biblical quote, a prayer, or song lyrics.
In June of 2023, Fr. Marcin posted on his “Churches from Heaven” profile a photograph and the story of a historic wooden church in Dębno Podhalańskie. An unusual confessional is located there.
In the description we read:
Next to the hanging stole, behind the priest’s back, there is a bas-relief depicting the Lord Jesus hugging a limp, weary man to his heart. Both the Lord Jesus and the man have black bare feet. The man being hugged by the Lord Jesus in this bas-relief is the man who made the confessional, a poor man from the mountains named Joseph Janos. When he was 19, he was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army and fought in the Alps on the Italian front. After two years, he returned to Debno as an invalid with deep mental trauma and frostbitten feet. He built a house of wood by himself and took up carving figures for roadside shrines of church interiors. He made his sculptures for the glory of God. He used to say of himself that he was a simpleton, and yet he is considered one of the most outstanding Polish folk artists.
“He who kneels, sees more”
There’s also a photo where there’s no church, but the photographer is shown kneeling down to take a beautiful picture.
“Faced with the beauty of the mountains, I feel that He exists, and then I begin to pray,” said St. John Paul II. There is no church in this photo, but when the photographer knelt down to take the picture, I thought that kneeling down gives us the best perspective of the beauty and goodness of the Creator, and in the beauty of the world one can, like in a church, feel His Presence. Especially since yesterday evening in Polonina Tsarinskaya was very beautiful and full of the goodness of God.
The priest explains that in the world around us we can see the goodness and omnipotence of God. We only need to stop for a moment and break away from our daily duties. “God is there waiting to open the camera shutter for someone,” Fr. Marcin says in another interview.
Fr. Marcin promotes photography among parishioners and young people in general. He organizes contests and exhibitions and leads photography retreats. “May your everyday life be a discovery of the work of the Divine Child in seemingly insignificant everyday matters and duties,” he says under one of his photos.