The song of the week is Hallelujah, originally by Leonard Cohen, then by Jeff Buckley, and then by John Cale in Shrek. With the Pope coming into town this weekend and religion making the headlines, let’s have a heads up into all the religious events happening around Philly!
In honor of the papal visit this weekend, the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Rare Book Department has opened an exhibit showcasing their selection of rare and religious texts. In addition to the first Bible printed in America, the exhibit also has the first translation of the Koran into English and an illustrated Hindu text (the Mahabharata, the longest story ever written). The beautiful texts narrate over 1000 years of religious history.
Did you know that the first Catholic books rolled off the press in Mexico City 65 years before English settlers set foot in Jamestown? This exhibit presents 16th-18th century documents and works that show Catholics’ relationship with the Americas, including the oldest surviving book printed in the Western hemisphere, Doctrina Breve, published in Mexico City in 1544. It also includes prayers books translated into Native American languages from across the Americas, including Aymara, Zapotec, and Montagna.
Paintings dating back to the first century and venerated relics (aka, saintly bone fragments) are only a few of the many objects present at the Franklin Institute. It is one of the largest Vatican collections to ever tour America and contains pieces that have never been in public view or left the Vatican. See how the Catholic Church has impacted art, culture, and history in an environment that imitates the catacombs and the papal chambers in the Vatican itself. Don’t forget to stop by The Art of the Brick to check out the Lego Vatican.
America’s colonial history began when thousands of Protestants, Catholics, and Jews came to escape persecution in Europe. This tradition continued long after Independence – to the point where now America has over 100,000 different sects of religion. The Constitution Center’s exhibit shows the role that religious liberty had in influencing the Founding Fathers and creating the Constitution and Bill of Rights.
This list would be remiss if we didn’t include the biggest event of the weekend – the Papal Visit! Italian immigrant, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was born in Buenos Aires in 1936. Starting out as a priest, he was eventually elected to Pope after Pope Benedict XVI resigned. A staunch supporter of forgiveness and supporting the poor, he chose the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi, a “man of poverty.” He is generally considered a progressive papal reformer and pushes for a more open, welcoming church. This weekend, he will be in Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families. At the event, he will likely address the crowd. Check out the schedule on the website for more information.