Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes

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Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes

SAN ANTONIO, TX.- "Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes," one of the world's largest collections of Vatican art, documents and historical objects to tour North America, will be on exhibit at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio from October 15, 2005, through January 8, 2006. San Antonio is the only city in the South to host the exhibition in a limited three-city tour beginning June 2005 in Montreal and ending May 2006 in Milwaukee.

More than 300 authentic pieces trace 2,000 years of Catholic leadership, beginning with Saint Peter through Pope John Paul II. The objects, including tiaras, sketches, jewelry, vestments and sculptures, as well as gifts to the popes from notables Napoleon and the Dalai Lama, are on loan from the Vatican, the Vatican Museums, the archives of the Propaganda Fide, the Pontifical Sacristy, the Sistine Chapel, and Roman churches administered by the Vatican. While the Vatican draws millions of visitors each year to view its art and history, many of these objects have never been on display before, even in Rome.

"We are delighted to bring this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to San Antonio especially in light of the recent passing of Pope John Paul II," said Peter Radetsky, Ph.D., Content Developer for Clear Channel Exhibitions, the producer of the Vatican exhibit. "This exhibit has something for everyone -- people of all faiths, historians, art lovers and students who come to admire the various elements, which include history, art, architecture, design and culture."

Among the most popular and touching objects of the tour is the bronze cast of Pope John Paul II's hand. Visitors may press their hands against it as they exit, symbolizing personal contact with the pope himself. Made specifically for the exhibition, Pope John Paul II consented with great enthusiasm that a cast of his hand be taken and put on view as a sign of welcome along with a personal letter. This gesture reminds attendees of his journeys across the globe and his wish for dialogue with the citizens of the lands he visited.

Highlights of the tour include a fourth century marble headstone; a fifth century fresco of Saint Peter; the Mandylion of Edessa, a fifth century linen painting of the face of Jesus; the original ring of St. Pius X (1903-1914); a jewel-encrusted papal tiara of Pope Pius IX, also worn by Pope John XXIII; a processional cross from the 15th century; a 16th century chalice encrusted with pearls, rock crystal, silver gilt and enamel; the first known map of Australia; a Buddhist devotional cloth, or Thanka, presented by the Dalai Lama for Pope John Paul II; and a crucifix-adorned silver pastoral staff of Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II.

"This exhibition is about art, history, culture and the Church's legacy over the last 2,000 years," said Mark Greenberg, president, Clear Channel Exhibitions. "The Vatican has had a profound and significant affect on society, influencing Western culture more than any other source in recorded history. `Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes' is a moving tribute to an exquisite assemblage of art and objects associated with the popes."

Greenberg added that the exhibit is not solely about religion, but rather a collection of fine and decorative arts that explores the papacy and its influence on world history.

The objects are on loan from many institutions from Vatican City State, including: Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Vatican Museums, the Reverenda Fabbrica of Saint Peter, the Patriarchal Basilica of Saint Paul's Outside-the-Walls and the Apostolic Floreria.

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