The Saint’s and Sinner’s Guide to the Pope in Philly
The Saint’s Guide to the Pope’s Visit
By Nicole Scott
Visit a shrine. Escape the crowds by making your way to the shrines of Saint Katharine Drexel (in Bensalem), Our Lady of Czestochowa (in Doylestown) and Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal (in Germantown). Looking to stay closer to the action? Visit the shrines of St. John Neumann (Northern Liberties) and St. Rita of Cascia (Point Breeze). Worship, take a tour, or simply enjoy the beauty and peace of these tranquil settings.
Engage. At the World Meeting of Families, internationally renowned speakers will hold discussions on the world’s most pressing family-related topics — making blended clans work, the concerns of the urban family, the role of women in the Church and the family — from the 22nd to the 25th at the Convention Center. Register online until the 15th (worldmeeting2015.org/register) and on-site after that.
Get your mystic on. In 1694, the German monk and mystic Johannes Kelpius emigrated to Philadelphia and settled with his group of followers in the valley of the Wissahickon Creek. Today, find the “Cave of Kelpius” — a stone structure tucked into the area where these hermits lived while awaiting the end of the world (which Kelpius preached would be in 1694) — by entering the Wissahickon via Hermit Lane in Roxborough.
Take a tour. Philadelphia Trolley Works will be hosting a number of religious-themed tours around the city during the Pope’s visit, like the two-hour “Religious Evening Walking Tour,” which gets you up-close and personal with Philadelphia’s important places of worship and religious sites while you learn about their histories.
Help the needy. Project HOME and the World Meeting of Families have set up “The Francis Fund” in honor of the Pope’s visit. All the money raised will go directly to local organizations that combat hunger, homelessness, poverty and human trafficking in the Philadelphia and Camden areas — capitalizing on the Pope’s visibility to make concrete changes locally. Donate by going to community.projecthome.org/francisfund.
Learn. On the 25th, head to St. Joe’s University to hear Argentine rabbi Abraham Skorka — Pope Francis’s longtime friend — commemorate the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate (which called for friendly relations between Catholics and Jews).
Soak in some culture (and church history). Many cultural institutions, including the Franklin Institute, the Rosenbach, the National Constitution Center, the Mütter Museum and Penn’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, will offer religious programming. Our favorite: “Vatican Splendors” at the Franklin Institute, which will include historical artifacts that have never before left the Holy See.
Appreciate art. A series of paintings at St. Augustine Church in Old City was just certified by the Philadelphia Historical Commission, and they’re believed to be the oldest frescoes in any religious building in the U.S. And Eastern State Penitentiary will offer visitors unlimited access to the newly restored murals in its Catholic Chaplain’s Office.
The Sinner’s Guide to the Pope’s Visit (Featuring All Seven Deadly Sins)
By Malcolm Burnley
Wrath: Satanic Rock Band Ghost at Union Transfer. The guitarists and drummer are called Nameless Ghouls. The lead singer wears skull makeup and dons an anti-pope miter with an upside-down black cross. And the band’s pious song titles include “Depth of Satan’s Eyes.” Is there better company with whom to spurn the Pope? 9/29
Envy: NFL Week 3 Action: Eagles at Jets. Yes, your brother-in-law is watching the game live at the Meadowlands while you’re stuck in a sea of holy rollers on the Parkway. Solution? Wireless earbuds and NFL Sunday Ticket mobile, baby. Now, there’s a holy covenant. 9/27
Pride: Pope-tinis at McGillin’s. The Midtown Village bar is celebrating the fact that Francis used to be a nightclub bouncer. With limited-edition drink specials like the Pope-tini and Vatican Citywides (Peroni with a shot of “holy water”), McGillin’s may be the drinking mecca of the Pope’s visit. Plus, the bar will be decked out with Vatican flags and a cardboard cutout of Francis for photo ops. 9/22–9/27
Sloth: Last Day of Spruce Street Harbor Park. Been waiting for a hammock all summer? Consider Sunday the 27th your best (and last) chance to nab one. While a million-plus gather for outdoor Mass, be an armchair theologian at SSHP with a summer cocktail in hand; enjoy the first fall breeze on this pop-up’s last day of the season. 9/27
Gluttony: Argentine Cuisine at Gavin’s Café. Flock to the only Argentine joint in Center City to gorge on a special menu featuring traditional fare. Get potbelly-stuffed on celestially sweet medialunas (crescent rolls) and alfajores (cookie sandwiches). Then see how many beef empanadas with chimichurri sauce you can fit in your mouth.
Lust: “Pope Beer Week” at Pub on Passyunk East. Confess it: You love another pope; you always have. He’s the one who lives three doors down from Sweat Fitness, whose home offers 15 drafts on tap and serves you brunch all weekend. (Try the Trinity platter and the Pope Burger.) For the entire week, P.O.P.E. will be featuring beers from local breweries made in honor of Francis. Plus, there’ll be a “Last Supper” with beer from Founders Brewing Co. on Sunday.
Greed: Finally Do What You’ve Always Wanted. It’s yours, all yours, all 140 square miles that isn’t called the Parkway and Schuylkill. Everyone and his mother will be there on Sunday, so for once, you might be able to enjoy a stroll through town without goofy hipsters on skateboards and blind-eyed tourist nuisances. Hell, go prancing naked through the Wissahickon.
Originally published in the September 2015 issue of Philadelphia magazine.