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September 18, 2015

10 ways to celebrate the papal visit

Where to honor the pope's arrival, from exhibits to festivals

Events Papal Visit
Cathedral Peter Paul B. Krist/Visit Philadelphia™

Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, located on Logan Circle just off the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, is considered the spiritual center for the archdiocese’s 1.4 million Catholics.

In case you hadn't heard, Pope Francis is visiting Philadelphia on Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27. His visit will take place right after the World Meeting of Families, sponsored by Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family, which runs Tuesday, September 22 through Friday, September 25.

During, and in celebration of, these major events, Philadelphia will be ripe with things for both visitors and residents to do. From exhibitions of sacred texts to festivals featuring international performers, there will be many ways to honor Pope Francis, experience his faith and enjoy his visit to the area.

Check out our guide to Pope-related happenings in Philadelphia below, then be sure to read The Papal Bull-etin: Everything you need to know about Pope Francis' visit to Philadelphia for a complete guide to the week.

The Clergy and the Academy's Collections

ANSP Clergy
Still life from The Clergy and the Academy’s Collections exhibit, Aug. 31 – Oct. 23. (G.W. Cowper/ANS)

The nation's oldest natural history museum will exhibit its plant and animal specimens, objects and books which were collected by "clergy naturalists," who maintained a close relationship with the institution. This exhibit will take place in the Library Gallery.

Museum will be closed Friday, September 25 through Monday, September 28
Extended hours: September 22-23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (entire museum open until 9 p.m.)

Now through Friday, October 30
Mondays-Fridays, 1-4 p.m.
The Academy of Natural Sciences, Library Gallery
1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.
(215) 299-1000


Sacred Writings: Extraordinary Texts of the Biblical World

Penn Museum Eliot Bible
The first complete Bible printed in the New World, a monumental translation of the Bible into the Native American Massachusett language, by Puritan missionary John Eliot, in 1663. (Penn Museum)

Featuring treasures from University of Pennsylvania's collections, this exhibit displays the many ways the Bible has been represented all over the world. The exhibit focuses specifically on Near East, Egypt and the Bible Lands in a display of rare artifacts, including one of the world's oldest pieces of the gospel of Saint Matthew from the Third century CE and the first complete Bible printed in the New World from 1663.

Museum will be closed Friday, September 25 at 4 p.m. through Sunday, September 27

Now through Sunday, November 8
Tuesdays-Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. | $10-15
Penn Museum
3260 South St.
(215) 898-4000


Sacred Stories: The World's Religious Traditions

The Free Library's Parkway Central Branch Rare Book Department has a compelling selection of religious texts on display. This exhibit showcases handwritten and printed scripture, including illuminated manuscripts and scrolls, representing Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism

Library will be closed Thursday, September 24 at 5 p.m. through Monday, September 28
Extended Hours: September 20, 1- 5 p.m; September 22-23, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Now through Saturday, January 30
Mondays–Saturdays 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Free Library Central Parkway Branch, Rare Book Department
1901 Vine St.
(215) 686-5416


WMOF Events at Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul

Cathedral Peter Paul
Philadelphia’s Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul is considered the spiritual center for the archdiocese’s 1.4 million Catholics. (B. Krist/Visit Philadelphia)

Leading up to its own papal mass, the Cathedral will host a series of talks by Maureen O’Riordan, lectures like "The Renaissance of Sacred Architecture Today," and additional "drop-in" tours featuring its façade, vaulted dome, main altar and side chapels. These tours require no reservation, but donation offerings are appreciated. Be sure to check tour times here, as the schedule is subject to change.

Saturday, September 19 through Thursday, September 24
Event times vary | Free admission, donation appreciated
Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul
18th Street & Benjamin Franklin Pkwy.
(215) 561-1313


Catholic Shrine Tours

Philadelphia Trolley Works and the Big Bus Company is offering a selection of themed visitors tours through the city leading up to papal weekend. The Catholic Shrine Tours will visit the National Shrines of St. Rita of Cascia, St. John Neumann, Miraculous Medal and St. Katharine Drexel.

Saturday, September 19 through Friday, September 25
8:45 a.m. | $60-125
Independence Visitor Center
6th & Market streets
(215) 389-8687


Vatican Splendors

Vatican Splendors
A processional cross that dates back to the 16th century. (© 2010 Vatican Splendors)

Over 200 works of art and historical artifacts, some of which have never left Vatican City, will be on display here. Renaissance and baroque artwork will take over 11 galleries for an immersive experience of the Catholic Church and religious art. The Franklin Institute will also have a LEGO replica of the Vatican on display. 

Institute will be closed Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27
Extended hours: September 21-24, 9:30 a.m.-9 p.m.

Saturday, September 19 through Monday, February 15
Sundays-Wednesdays, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursdays-Saturdays, 9 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
The Franklin Institute
271 N. 21st St.
(215) 448-1200 


The Pope's Favorite Films

The Philadelphia Film Society will be screening three films that Pope Francis enjoys in advance of his visit. The films include "Babette's Fest," "Rome, Open City" and "La Strada." As a bonus, double feature passes are available for guests to see one of those films plus a showing of "The Vatican Museums 3D."

Tuesday, September 22 through Thursday, September 24
7:40 p.m. | $8-10
Prince Theater
1412 Chestnut St.
(215) 422-4580


Relic Exhibition of St. Maria Goretti

The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia will honor St. Maria with an exhibition of the reliquary of her remains. Afternoon mass, guests will be able to view St.Maria's remains inside a glass-sided casket and attend a mass in her honor with celebrant Fr. Carlos Martin at 5:30 p.m. 

Wednesday, September 23
Afternoon mass-8 p.m.
The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia
1166 S. Broad St.
(215) 546-8333


Festival of Families

Festival of Families
This rendering depicts the stage for the Festival of Families, to be held Sept. 26 at Eakins Oval. (ESM Productions)

One of the biggest events of the papal visit weekend, the Festival will include appearances by Pope Francis and a lineup of live entertainment. Tickets are required to enter the festival down Ben Franklin Parkway between 20th Street and Eakins Oval, but outside of that everyone is welcome to watch the happenings on Jumbotrons placed around the festival area. Mark Wahlberg, Aretha Franklin, The Fray, Jim Gaffigan, Jackie Evancho, Sister Sledge, Andrea Bocelli, The Philadelphia Orchestra and Juanes will be there.

Saturday, September 26
Performances begin at 12:45 p.m. | Free admission
Benjamin Franklin Parkway, from City Hall to Eakins Oval
Click here for more information


Top of the Tower for the Papal Visit

The Top of the Tower at Three Logan Square will host four special events during the pope's visit, including broadcasts of the biggest events. Guests can dine over seven seatings from brunch to dinner, including a Caelum Cena (Sky Supper) set during the Papal Mass and overlooking the Parkway. Special reservations and tickets are required. 

Saturday, September 26 and Sunday, September 27
Seating times vary | $90-175
Top of the Tower
3 Logan Square
(215) 567-8787