File this under sentences I never expected to type: I’m really excited that Pope Francis is definitely, probably, maybe visiting Philadelphia in 2015! I never thought I’d care about a papal presence in my own city, but Francis’s sorta-liberal views about homosexuality and penchant for selfies, has endeared him to cynics across the world—including recovering Catholics like me. (Not to mention big-time media outlets like Gawker who called him “Cool Pope Francis” and Rolling Stone who put him on the cover of their upcoming February issue.)
A pope hasn’t visited Philadelphia since 1979 when John Paul II came to town. Since the current pontiff is notably hipper than his staunchy predecessors (see: selfies), we owe it to him to show him a good time in our humble metropolis. Here, 10 must-visit Philadelphia sites that Pope Francis should definitely, probably, maybe see.
1. Pat’s: Because everybody needs a little local flavor when they come to Philadelphia and Geno’s definitely wouldn’t like it if he ordered a cheesesteak in Latin.
2. The Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul: Since it’s our Archdiocese’s head church and John Paul II celebrated mass there during his 1979 trip, it’s likely that Pope Francis will make a stop here. And with good reason — this is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city.
3. Pub on Passyunk East: The pope at the POPE? You’re welcome, headline writers.
4. The Wendy’s at 15th and Chestnut: Anyone who frequents Center City knows that there are some weird vibes at this place. As Philebrity points out, this corner has been the site of riots, flashmobs, Occupy Philly and most recently, a Kimye pitstop. I don’t know if Pope Francis could — or even should — exorcise the strange energy from this part of the city, but I think it couldn’t hurt to have him say a little prayer in the general vicinity.
5. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia: There is nowhere more hopeful in the city than CHOP, where even in the face of crippling illness, children and their families find comfort and help. The staff at CHOP are among the best humans in Philadelphia and the Pope should give them a little love.
6. Buca di Beppo for a visit the Pope Room: But only if the PopeMobile gets good gas mileage. After all, the Center City location closed down so he’d have to drive all the way out to Exton.
7. PPL Park: A big fan of soccer, Pope Francis would surely enjoy watching the Philadelphia Union play. Better yet: Get him to hang out with the Sons of Ben, the team’s most fervent supporters.
8. St. Hubert Catholic High School for Girls: Each year, more and more Philadelphia Catholic schools close their doors permanently. Both of my alma maters are gone and that stinks. As Michael Callahan wrote in the May 2013 issue of this magazine, “ If you went through Catholic school here, you’re bonded in a unique way that people who went to public or private school just can’t understand.” St. Hubert’s has habitually been on the chopping block, but because of their alumni association — a group of women with, I can only assume, actual super powers — the school remains open. If any of the Catholic schools in Philadelphia deserve a papal blessing, it is this one.
9. The 10 Trolley: Or really any public transit in the city. The Pope is a known supporter of public transit — even giving up his chauffeur in order to take the bus to work — so a ride on SEPTA seems appropriate. (Not to mention, he could do some real good for the city if he sees some of the things Phillymag staffer Victor Fiorillo has seen while riding around Philadelphia. If ever there was an opportunity to minister to the people …)
10. Voyeur: Not only is Pope Francis the closest thing to a gay ally that the Catholic Church has seen in, well, forever, he’s also a former nightclub bouncer and a fan of dancing. They’re probably not doing the tango at Voyeur these days, but maybe the Pope could be convinced to twerk.