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Image of former pope St John Paul II cuddling Paris Hilton is photoshopped

A photo that seems to show US socialite Paris Hilton getting cosy with former pope St John Paul II has been posted on a Réunion-based Facebook page.

Both are smiling, with the saint holding a whiskey bottle, his hand on Hilton’s waist and their lips just centimetres apart. The background is dark, with photographers seen focusing their cameras on the pair.

The image has prompted mixed reactions from users across the world – some amused, some angry.

Did Hilton canoodle with the previous pope? We checked.

Competition for ‘impossible celebrity couples’

A Google reverse image search of the image leads us to the website Design Crowd, a crowd-sourcing platform founded in 2008.

Design Crowd holds Photoshop design contests in which 728,339 designers from around the world can compete.

The photo of the former pope and Hilton was submitted by an Australian designer called Gezzunder for a Photoshop community contest on 3 April 2007.

According to Design Crowd, the photoshopped image was designed for a project titled “Impossible Celebrity Couples 2”.

On the lower left of the image is a logo for Worth Worth 1000 was founded in 2002 to host Photoshop and other artistic contests online. It is now part of Design Crowd.

Original images

A Yandex reverse image search led to a Portuguese-language fact-check that found the image to be photoshopped. 

In the original photo, Paris Hilton is seen posing for a photo on a red carpet. The original St John Paul II photo shows him holding a little girl in his arms, seemingly talking to her. – Grace Gichuhi


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