John Paul II was the bishop of Rome for over a quarter of a century...and so the mayor’s office has put together an exhibition of paraphernalia, photos and video that reveal the intimate relationship the Polish pope had with his diocese.
Mayor of Rome
“We wanted to honor him in the most affecionate way possible.”
The exhibit begins with Karol at age 26, when he came to Rome to do his doctorate in theology at the Angelicum University, run by the Dominicans.
Many years later, he would return to the Eternal City as a cardinal to participate in a conclave.
When elected pope, his secretary gave him this papal hat. It’s on loan from the Vatican Office of Ceremonies.
This is the staff that he used for the last 9 years of his life, especially useful during much of his illness. It remained by his side even beyond death when the world paid homage to his remains in St. Peter’s Basilica.
He celebrated Corpus Christi in June of 2000 with this monstrance.
And this was the miter he used to conclude the synod in 1983.
The mayor’s office collected these objects used by Karol Wojtyla on his countless trips and tours of the world.
John Paul II left an indelible mark on the Italian capital. He converted the Coliseum, a symbol of the pagan Roman empire, into a place of worship, carrying the cross to trace Jesus’ steps every Good Friday.
These unforgettable moments are immortalized in black and white.
Much of the exhibit is dedicated to his historic visit to the Roman Synagogue, where he met with Rabbi Toaff in April of 1986. The Jewish community in Rome presented him with this letter on parchment as a keepsake.
John Paul II carried out his responsibility as bishop of Rome in an extraordinary way: he personally visited almost every single parish in the city. He never forgot the poor and marginalized, not even the inmates of a jail or these garbage men.
Bishop Luigi Moretti
Auxiliary Bishop of Rome
“It’s impossible to count the number of hands that he shook, or the people he met. It is a sign of a very deep relationship that lasted so many years.”
More than anything, this exhibit captures the human side of the John Paul II. Here we see him having fun with Italian president Sandro Pertini, who became a close friend.
Then there was the farewell. This is the Gospel that blew in the wind, almost poetically, during his funeral. It was the only item that adorned his simple cypress coffin.
The exhibit will be open to the public till next January. It is Rome’s tribute to the shepherd who came from far away, and led them for 26 years, 5 months and 17 days.