- The Washington Times - Friday, August 1, 2008

Catholic University has opened an exhibit of gifts that Pope Benedict XVI gave the school during his recent visit that officials hope will extend people’s interest in the historic event.

“We want people to fully appreciate what went into the pope coming to Catholic U and keep the community connected to his visit,” said Frank Persico, the school’s vice president for university relations.

The “Together in Faith: The Pope Visits Catholic University” exhibit features the zucchetto, or the pope’s white hat; the student-designed chair he used during his April 17 address at the school’s Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center; a third-century papyrus copy of the First Letter of St. Peter; a rosary he blessed; papal cards he signed and crowd photographs.

The free exhibit will be at four locations on campus and includes the pope’s speech on the value of a Catholic education and documents about the five months of preparation before his arrival. It will move through four locations at the school before closing Oct. 17.

The 22-piece exhibit is on display through Aug. 29 in the Louise H. Keelty and James Keelty Jr. Atrium, then through Sept. 5 at the John K. Mullen of Denver Memorial Library before going on display through Sept. 18 in the lobby of McMahon Hall. The exhibit closes after being on display Sept. 19 to Oct. 17 at the Pryzbyla Center Atrium.

Among the highlights of the pope’s April 15 to 17 visit was his meeting with President Bush, his celebration of Mass at Nationals Park baseball stadium, his meeting at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center with leaders of other religions and his visit to Catholic University, in Northeast.

The Rev. David M. O’Connell, the university’s president, said he learned that the pope would visit the school in an August 2007 call from the Embassy of the Apostolic Nunciature of the Holy See in the District. He was told the pope would address prominent leaders in Catholic education and that his school was on the list because it is the only university in the United States founded by bishops.

“We want these people to be able to look at this place and think this is a great place to come to and study,” Mr. Persico said.

The exhibit took 10 weeks to assemble and is expected to be a main attraction during alumni weekend this fall.

“The pope’s visit was such a special occasion for me and Catholic University,” Father O’Connell said during a reception Thursday in the Keelty Atrium, in the Columbus School of Law building. “Only one other president can say the pope visited their campus.”

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