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Montreal exhibit, June 4-Sept. 18: the Legacy of the Popes.

Thanks to the vision of Pope John Paul II of blessed memory, some 300 treasures of the Vatican's immense collection of precious and sacred objects travelled to North America in 2003 and 2004. Now in the newly renovated crypt of Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal, The Legacy of the Popes is in its only Canadian venue from June 4 until September 18, 2005. His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI has made the Montreal exhibit even more special by adding the cartridge that produced the white smoke heralding his election and four objects that comprise his first vestments as pope: a cassock, zucchetto, pectoral cross and shoes. Two exquisite urns and two patens are also included which were part of the election process and also only in Montreal.

In the newly renovated crypt, an exact replica of the tomb of St. Peter is the starting point of the exhibit. As Monsignor Roberto Zagnolli, Exhibition Curator and Advisor to the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, told me, the basic idea of the exhibition is to show the Vatican, so the discovery of St. Peter's tomb in 1968 by means of a video is of underlying importance to everything that comes after. Then we seem to enter a necropolis lighted by actual 4th and 5th century oil lamps that lead to the apostle's gravesite. Many objects discovered around the tomb, both Roman and Christian, heighten the sense of excitement in the discovery. Drawings for the original basilica built by Emperor Constantine come next, followed by its treasures, a Bust of an Angel, a mosaic by Giotto, and the Mandylion of Edessa, a 5th-century linen painting of Our Lord surrounded by an elaborate gold and silver frame. Then 1000 years later, the St. Peter's we know, from 1450-1626, the work of Bernini, Raphael, Michelangelo, spans the reign of 28 popes. The Renaissance Basilica shows us 400-year-old embroidered vestments of Pope Urban VIII and then to the Sistine Chapel with an explanation of how Michelangelo painted the ceiling, an excerpt showing the finger of God about to give life to Adam. The ceremony of the death of a pope and the process of papal succession are displayed, as both take place within the chapel's chambers.

Next we see Napoleonic-era popes and up to Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI. The Tiara of Pope Pius VII, containing one of the world's largest emeralds, was a gift from Napoleon. Gallery 10 describes the pope's work within the Roman Catholic Church, his involvement with missions and dialogues with other religions. A Thanka, a Buddhist devotional cloth, a gift to Pope John Paul II by the Dalai Lama in 1978 is displayed. Objects to demonstrate the solemnity of Catholic ceremonies follow, including a processional cross given to Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) for his Jubilee Year and, a golden chalice enriched with diamonds. Finally there are the special inclusions of Pope Benedict XVI, the pastoral staff of Pope John Paul II and the bronze cast of his hand which everyone is encouraged to grasp, symbolizing new hope and purpose for the third millennium.

As the Holy Father himself put it on September 3, 2002 at the start of The Legacy of the Popes progression, "May all who visit the exhibition, Saint Peter and the Vatican, in admiring the beauty of the works of art contained therein, draw near with confidence to Jesus Christ the Redeemer, who made the Apostle Peter his vicar on earth."

For timed tickets: or tel: 1 800 848-1594. Special rates for Groups, Seniors, Youths. Via Rail is a sponsor of the exhibit.
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Author:Mason, Mary
Publication:Catholic Insight
Geographic Code:1CQUE
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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