The cover image revealed today for a forthcoming book by Pope Francis is simple: Dressed in papal white, against a white background, he offers a gentle smile that seems to say, "Come here. I have a gift for you — wisdom for your future drawn from my past."

The pontiff personally chose this look-you-in-the-eyes photo for Life, My Story Through History, to be published in late March by Harper Collins across North and South America and Europe in Italian, English, Spanish, French, German, Polish, and Portuguese.

"He picked this image by a Vatican photographer because he wanted it to be direct. He looks happy, like someone who won't scold you but will inspire you and teach you things," says Judith Curr, president and publisher for HarperOne, which will publish the book in the U.S. Curr says the books will go on sale during Holy Week leading up to Easter, "the time when the Pope is the busiest person in the world."

Life is not exactly a memoir, a biography, or an autobiography. Rather, it alternates the pope's voice with that of Fabio Marchese Ragona, a journalist for the Italian media company Mediaset, who serves as a narrator setting the historical context. Curr says, "The book opens with him as a three-year-old playing with pans at his mother's feet on the day World War was declared in Europe." It continues as a personal dialog, guided by the journalist writing about who he was and where he was at key moments and Francis offering his personal experiences and views on God, faith, and the future.

Francis had a direct hand in choosing the publisher as well. Chantal Restivo-Alessi, Harper Collins' CEO International Foreign Language and Chief Digital Officer, tells PW that Ragona and Mediaset came to talk with Laura Donnini, managing director of HarperCollins Italia, at the London Book Fair barely nine months ago. They relayed his request for a house that could publish in all these languages, offer a cohesive and consistent message in his true voice, deliver the book at publishing warp speed, and market it through multiple channels from Amazon and Barnes & Noble to Tik-Tok influencers.

"We are uniquely positioned to operate in this way," Restivo-Alessi says, pointing to their global campaigns for books by authors such as Daniel Silva, Don Winslow, and Karin Slaughter. She noted HC's established bank of translators could move swiftly on the manuscript, and their nimble marketers are addressing another goal of the pope for his book — to reach a new generation.

Francis says in the book, “Life came to light so that young people, in particular, might listen to the voice of an old man and reflect on what our planet has lived through, so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past."