The “Roman Calendar,” also known as the “hot priest” calendar, is one of Rome’s best-selling souvenirs. But the photographer behind it has admitted that not all of the hunks in the photos are men of the cloth.
The calendar is made up of black and white photos of smoldering priests and has been released every year for two decades and is sold on newsstands across the Italian capital.
But in an interview with Il Post, Piero Pazzi, the photographer who took the photos, admits that many of the “priests” are actually just regular people and some of them aren’t even from Italy.
“It’s true, not all of them are priests, but the intent was to highlight priests as symbols of a city like Rome, which owes a lot to the Vatican and the Church in general,” he says.
Even the main “priest” — who is on the front cover every year — is not a clergyman. In fact, his name is Giovanni Galizia and he was photographed by Pazzi for the calendar when he was 17 years old — he is now 36 and works as a flight attendant in Palermo.
“No, I’m not a priest. I can confirm it. I would remember it if I was,” he told Fanpage in 2022. “[Pazzi] asked me if I wanted to take that photo and I said: ‘Why not’. From there this never-ending story was born. But I have never been a model, nor have I ever had this type of ambition.”
Despite being the cover model who is often recognized because of it, Galizia says he did not receive compensation for his appearance.
Although some of the priests are not genuine, Pazzi insists that some are and says he often goes to Seville and Rome during Easter time where he uses a Fujifilm camera to capture parading priests during Holy Week.
In the interview with Il Post, the photographer also addressed the rumors that the Vatican is unhappy about the publication’s continued success (it apparently sold 75,000 copies during its mid-2010s heyday) — he says Catholicism’s authorities have never reached out to him or sent any complaints.