- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 19, 2009

ROME (AP) - Gianni Giansanti, an award-winning Italian photographer who snapped candid portraits of Pope John Paul II during his pilgrimages, has died in Rome after battling bone cancer, his colleagues said. He was 52.

Giansanti also traveled on some of Pope Benedict XVI’s overseas trips, covering his last papal pilgrimage in Brazil, in 2007, his studio assistant, Ada Masella, said. He died Wednesday.

Giansanti was a 21-year-old freelancer just breaking into photography during the years of Italian domestic terrorism when he shot the 1978 image that for many captured the horror of that era _ the bullet-riddled body of Aldo Moro, the kidnapped former Italian Christian Democrat premier, in the truck of a parked car.

He furnished a black-and-white photo of the scene to The Associated Press, which transmitted it around the world. His photos of the body helped him early in his career to work on contract for the Sygma photo agency.

Giansanti’s career seemed linked to the life of Polish-born John Paul, who was elected pontiff in 1978 and was credited with helping bring down Soviet-bloc communism.

Giansanti was among the first foreign photographers to scramble into Poland during the imposition of martial law there by the then-Communist regime in the early years of John Paul’s papacy. Awards included a World Press Photo first prize in 1988 for reportage on a day in the life of John Paul.

Other honored work included reportage on famine in Somalia in 1993.

His versatility also spanned the world of sports, from soccer to car-racing.

Survivors include his wife, Anna, and two children.

A funeral service was scheduled for Friday in Rome.

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