Veteran Catholic photographer Noli Yamsuan dies

PAPAL RECOGNITION. In an interview with Rappler for the papal visit in January 2015, Manuel 'Noli' Yamsuan Jr shows his Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal u2013 an honor given by the Vatican for his service to the Catholic Church. File photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

PAPAL RECOGNITION. In an interview with Rappler for the papal visit in January 2015, Manuel 'Noli' Yamsuan Jr shows his Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice medal u2013 an honor given by the Vatican for his service to the Catholic Church.

File photo by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Dubbed as "the man who shoots popes," veteran Catholic photographer Manuel "Noli" Yamsuan Jr died on Saturday, December 10, after weeks of battling illness in the hospital.

Yamsuan died at 3:54 pm on Saturday at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center, his son Erwin said. 

"He was in the presence of family and friends when he returned to the Father, and was in no pain," his son said in a Facebook post.

Yamsuan "had been in the hospital for more than a month, after having suffered an acute stroke and complications of diabetes," a press release from the Archdiocese of Manila said. 

Yamsuan's family is holding his wake in Chapels A and B at Christ the King Parish in Greenmeadows, Quezon City, starting Sunday, December 11.

Yamsuan, 71, was a long-time photographer at the Archdiocese of Manila. 

He served under 3 Manila archbishops – the late Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, Manila Archbishop Emeritus Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales, and current Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle.

Yamsuan is also known for having covered 3 papal visits to the Philippines – the trips of Pope Saint John Paul II in 1981 and 1995, and Pope Francis in 2015.

'None can equal him'

One of his closest friends was Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, who was also the protégé of Sin. 

Villegas told Rappler on Saturday: "He was the loyal and outstanding photographer of popes and cardinals, and bishops, priests, and church events. Through his camera lens, he captured immortal moments of grace."

"None among church photographers can equal him," Villegas added. "He is a class all by himself in religious photography."

Yamsuan once spoke to Rappler about the papal visit in 2015, and was asked if he ever saw himself stopping as a church photographer. (READ: The man who shoots popes

Laughing, Yamsuan answered, "I'd probably do it until the battery runs out!"

Yamsuan said: "I'm sure you've never met a photographer who never takes a picture even when on an assignment right? If you see a picture, you will take it. Even if I have a cane on one hand, I’d probably have a camera on the other and making images."

"I won't ever stop," the icon of Philippine liturgical photography said. "It is what keeps me going." – Rappler.com