Vatican exhibition 'a moment of grace'


A Vatican exhibit, featuring more than 300 artifacts and art objects on the history of the popes, from St. Peter until now, has opened in the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

“Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes” are now on display at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center through Jan. 8, 2006, reported Today’s Catholic. It is the exhibit’s second of three North American stops. The first was in Montreal, Canada, from June to September.

The 15,000 square-foot exhibit presents objects that span nearly 2,000 years and emphasizes the Vatican’s impact on culture through the centuries. Many of these items have never left the Vatican or been on public view.

One of the more poignant pieces is a bronze cast of the hands of Pope John Paul II, which the late Pope had commissioned in 2000. Museum-goers can touch the bronze cast.

Never-seen-before objects include the mechanism that produced the white smoke heralding Pope Benedict XVI’s election and four items that comprise the new Pope’s first vestments, including a cassock, zucchetto, pectoral cross and shoes.

The two urns and two patens that were used during the last conclave to count the ballots are also on display. The cardinals’ ballots were set on a small gilded bronze plate and then slid into an urn adorned with sheep. A second urn, topped with a shepherd, was used to hold the ballots after they had been counted.

Other objects include tiaras, sketches, jewelry, vestments, sculptures and gifts to the popes from a number of world leaders and historic figures, including Napoleon and the Dalai Lama. All of the objects are on loan from different Vatican departments.

During a special press viewing last month, Archbishop Jose Gomez recalled Pope John Paul II’s visit to the diocese in 1987. He spoke of his eagerness for all to see the exhibit.

“Certainly, our 660,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of San Antonio are fortunate to have been giving this opportunity to learn more about this remarkable succession of faith that is their heritage,” he said. “I especially hope that we will use this opportunity to teach our children about their Church.”

Among the speakers at the media briefing were Msgr. Robert Zagnoli, curator of the Vatican Museums; Archbishop Gomez; Mayor Phil Hardberger, and Rabbi Barry Block of Temple Beth-El.

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