Pope Francis will arrive Tuesday in the United States to find a Catholic Church playing a prominent role in American life, with a vast network of charities and an infusion of energy from a fast-growing Latino population. At the same time, the church is struggling to find its footing a few months after gay marriage became legal and as more people leave organized religion behind.
The trip is Francis' first visit to this country since his papacy began in March 2013. On previous trips, Francis has taken steps to connect with local residents — and to promote his message of a modest lifestyle and concern for those in need.
The Pope has a full schedule, with stops in Washington, D.C., New York and Philadelphia. He will celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden, meet with Congress and President Obama and worship with millions during his six-day visit.
Stop One: The Nation's Capital
Washington is bracing for the arrival of one of the most popular popes in memory with a familiar mix of joyful anticipation and dread.
The rush is on for tickets to view the pope's address to a joint meeting of Congress, something no pope has done, or to attend the pope's outdoor Mass at the Shrine of the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Environmentalists have secured a permit for 200,000 for a rally on the Mall to highlight the pontiff's stance on protecting the planet. Souvenirs and life-size pop-ups of the pope are cropping up, and the Washington Archdiocese has even unveiled a social media hashtag — #PopeinDC — to help Francis fans keep up with the Holy Father's travels.
City, state and federal officials said they are planning for an event on a scale of presidential inaugurations.
"We anticipate very, very large crowds . . . much earlier than prior to the pope coming up the Capitol, lining all of the streets," U.S. Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine told a Senate panel earlier this year. "That is a huge event, and something frankly that goes above and beyond our budget."
Pope at play
Father Dave Fitz-Patrick stands left as children gather in the playground with a life-size cutout of Pope Francis at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School in Washington. Most Catholic schools around Washington are busy preparing for the Pope's visit, with some students selected to greet him at Apostolic Nunciature. Students at Our Lady of Victory are preparing by learning about Argentinian culture, making lunches for the homeless and planting gardens. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Emma Medley, 13, left, and Tea Picconatto, 10, color a heart for Pope Francis in the Spanish and Art classroom at Our Lady of Victory Catholic School in Washington, D.C. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Get your Pope souvenirs here!
With permission from the Archdiocese of Washington, the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception In Washington, D.C., where Francis will canonize a saint on Sept. 23, has commissioned several lines of papal-visit souvenirs in English and Spanish. Here, Carlos Limongi, takes a shirt from the display of items, which includes shirts, medallions and holy water bottles, all emblazoned with a custom logo, and a 10-inch porcelain Pope Francis for $59.95.
Whatever this pope's view of global capitalism, there's not much he can do about the Papal Industrial Complex busily slapping his name and face on souvenirs ranging from Pope Francis cologne to "YOPO" ("You Only Pope Once") beer. The mercantile blizzard has become a standard feature of the pontifical visit, and Francis, in particular, seems to have inspired secular as well as religious suppliers to get in the game.
"It's amazing. This pope may sell better than sex sells," said Rocco Palmo, a Philadelphia-based journalist who writes the "Whispers in the Loggia" blog. "You can't walk within a mile of St. Peter's Square without people accosting you with T-shirts, rosaries, everything but a vacuum cleaner with the pope's picture on it." (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Protecting the Pope and the public
Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy, right, and other members of the Secret Service, arrive at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., as preparations are being finalized for Pope Francis' mass. Federal authorities are mobilizing one of the largest security operations in U.S. history ahead of Pope Francis's arrival Tuesday, an effort that is straining law enforcement resources in Washington, New York and Philadelphia.
Hundreds of thousands of onlookers are expected to gather in all three cities for a glimpse of the Catholic Church leader, whose unrivaled global popularity and proclivity to wade into public crowds has added to security concerns. Thousands of federal and local personnel will be deployed to keep the pontiff and the public safe. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Face-to-face with the 'humanitarian crisis'
“It’s hard for me to describe this feeling,” Juan Jose Vasquez said after learning he would be talking with Pope Francis. Vasquez fled to Maryland after his parent died at the hands of Honduran drug traffickers. In July last year, as tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors crossed the border, Francis called the situation a "humanitarian emergency" that "requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected." Officials at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington are orchestrating what could be the pontiff's closest encounter yet with a face of that crisis. (Photo by Allison Shelley for The Washington Post)
The carpenter's carpenter
Deacon David Cahoon, left, from the Archdiocese of Washington and professional carpenter, gives a television interview as head carpenter Carlos Hernandez, center, lifts up a portion of the altar that Pope Francis will use during his Mass in Washington. It is one of 14 pieces Cahoon is building for the pope's visit.
Among other items, Cahoon is also overseeing construction of a papal chair, along with eight smaller matching deacons' chairs; an ambo, which is a lectern from which the Gospel and other texts are read; and a reliquary stand to be used in a ceremony for Junipero Serra, an 18th-century Franciscan friar who founded missions in California and will be canonized as a saint.
Cahoon, 58, also built an altar for Pope Benedict VI's visit to Washington in 2008. With a little less than a month to go before Pope Francis arrives, the carpenter is on a tight deadline and is reluctant to take a break of any kind. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Head carpenter Carlos Hernandez works off renderings of the altar that Pope Francis will use during his Mass in Washington. Construction of the papal furnishings for Pope's outdoor Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception are being completed in a suburb north of Washington, D.C., after a team of Catholic University students and graduates designed the furnishings.
The Mass will be celebrated in a temporary sanctuary that's being built on the east portico of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. The church can comfortably seat 3,500 people, and up to 10,000 can cram inside on special occasions like Easter. But the pope's visit is more than that, and the archdiocese can't hope to accommodate everyone who wants to attend. There will be 15,000 seats on the lawn in front of the church, and the remaining 10,000 people will have to stand.
"If we had 100,000 seats, we'd have 100,000 people," said Monsignor Walter Rossi, rector of the basilica.
Inside the basilica will be more than 2,000 men and women from around the United States who are studying to be priests and nuns. Pope Francis will bless them before the Mass. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Catholic University graduate Ariadne Cerritelli of Bethesda, Md., and fellow architecture students Matthew Hoffman of Pittsburgh and Joseph Taylor of Eldersburg, Md., competed for the opportunity to design the altar and chair Pope Francis will use at his outdoor Mass on Sept. 23 in Washington, D.C. Their design was chosen from among the 18 submissions from students at Catholic University's School of Architecture and Planning.
“I am always impressed and amazed at the variety of designs that can be presented from a limited program of requirements,” said Bishop Knestout. “The liturgical furnishings are simple and small in number — an altar, ambo, and presidential chair — yet these simple elements find expression in a variety of forms, each unique in creativity and beauty, found in all the 18 designs submitted for the competition. The different styles ranged from classical to modern, each reflecting the unique gifts of the teams that had designed them.”
The altar — which is being fashioned from locally sourced and recycled medium-density fiberboard — echoes the Romanesque-Byzantine style of the basilica. It will stand about 40 inches high with a surface made with an 8-by-4-foot stone slab that can be removed to allow the altar to be moved. The gold and ivory colored tiles will create a papal crest to be used on the altar. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Workers carry a portion of the altar that Pope Francis' will use for his mass next week, past a statue of Our Lady of El Cobre or Nuestra Senora de la Virgen de la Caridad, at Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington.
Pope Francis will celebrate the Mass of canonization for Junipero Serra in Spanish, and several thousand of the 25,000 tickets to the event will be reserved for Spanish-speaking people, many of them from California, Wuerl said.
Serra established the first Catholic missions in California in the 18th Century; he was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1988. Some California Native Americans oppose Serra's canonization, calling him a destroyer of indigenous culture.
The Mass will provide an opportunity to highlight the contributions of Hispanics to the nation and the church, Wuerl said.
"Historically, and we're talking now over a long period of time but certainly in the recent history, the strongest and most consistent voice for the welcoming of immigrants, for the welcoming of the stranger into our land, has been the Catholic church," he said. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Stop Two: The Big Apple
Francis will deliver a speech on sustainable development at the United Nations, where he'll have another opportunity to voice his concerns about the environment ahead of make-or-break climate negotiations in Paris later this year.
He'll host an interfaith gathering at Ground Zero in New York and meet with children and immigrant families on the other end of Manhattan, in Harlem.
While St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Yankee Stadium during their New York visits, Francis will celebrate Mass for a slightly smaller crowd in Madison Square Garden, and preside over a vespers service at the newly spruced-up St. Patrick's Cathedral.
Welcome to New York
A sign painter outlines the Pope's nose on the side of a New York City office building. Francis added a trip through parts of Central Park to his schedule as an added opportunity for people to see him, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan said there could be even more additions to his itinerary.
"Surprises are kept to a minimum because this has to be carefully choreographed and we have to pay special attention to the legitimate requests of the pros at security, but balance that out with the fact that we have a pope of surprises," he said. "So stay tuned because I think we will probably see some." (Photo by The Associated Press)
The papal chair to be used when the Pope celebrates Mass at Madison Square Garden was designed to reflect the pontiff's wishes for a simple design, church officials said.
It has a light brown finish with a darker mahogany trim and a white cushioned seat, back and arms. Cardinal Timothy Dolan said the symbolism of a chair was "very important in Catholic imagination."
"A chair represents unity and a chair represents teaching authority," Dolan said, adding that the pope wanted something simple and wooden without any designs.
The chair was constructed by a group of immigrant day laborers in a garage in Port Chester, including Fransisco Santamaria, left, and Fausto Hernandez, right, of Dominican Reublic. The Archdiocese of New York said immigrants were specifically chosen because of Francis' concern over those who are marginalized and for his desire for justice in the world. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Madison Square Garden Mass
Pope Francis will celebrate Mass at Madison Square Garden, a popular indoor arena located in Manhattan. Madison Square Garden is a multi-purpose indoor arena, primarily used for sporting events, concerts, and other large-scale events. With a seating capacity of over 19,000, the venue proves to be a suitable location for a papal Mass in New York.
Tickets to the Mass have been primarily distributed to parishes within the Archdiocese of New York, with a limited number distributed to the other dioceses in New York State.
Jennifer Hudson, Gloria Estefan, Harry Connick, Jr. and Martin Sheen are among the celebrities scheduled to preform before the Mass begins. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
Laura Soriano works on the design to be used in the embroidery during Pope Francis' visit in the basement of St. Peter’s Church, in Yonkers, N.Y. Seventeen Latina women, mostly Mexican, are embroidering cloths that will be used during the Pope’s visit at the altar at Madison Square Garden and at a school in East Harlem. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Ring the bells
Lucia Popian, president of G&L Popian, cleans and polishes the crucifix on the main altar as part of the restoration of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York. A three-year restoration project at St. Patrick's Cathedral, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and one of the country's most well-known churches, is coming to an end just in time for a visit from Pope Francis.
The project seemed to have the luck of the Irish. Jeff Keeley, a foreman for the scaffolding company, said it was "very uneventful," there were no safety incidents, and clear skies and good weather were on hand when they needed it. They've been "very fortunate in a lot of ways," he said, adding after thinking about it, "probably blessed."
Pope Francis is scheduled to be at St. Patrick's on Sept. 24 for evening prayer.
Keeley said workers were excited to find out their efforts would be seen by the head of the church.
"Sometimes you do things, and no one really cares," he said. "When the pope comes, hopefully he will care, right? He's going to look at it and say, 'Wow, this really looks good.'" (Photo by The Associated Press)
Planning for every scenario
Representatives of various law enforcement agencies and the National Guard gather downtown at Police Headquarters New York for security preparations surrounding the visit of Pope Francis to the city. His Big Apple visit coincides with the 70th U.N. General Assembly, where more than 150 foreign delegations are also expected, creating a virtual lockdown in portions of midtown.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson has designated Francis's stops in each city a National Special Security Event, a rare designation to streamline the federal response that had previously been used for presidential inaugurations, state of the union addresses, political conventions, NATO summits, the 1998 Winter Olympics and Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002.
The U.S. Secret Service is in charge of coordinating the massive inter-governmental operation on counter-terrorism operations, crowd management, crisis response and air and vehicle traffic control. The FBI, Capitol Police, Coast Guard, Pentagon and Federal Emergency Management Agency are closely involved in the planning, along with local police departments. (AP Photo/The New York Times, Chang W. Lee, Pool)
Stop Three: The City of Love
The pope’s visit to Philadelphia plus the World Meeting, a triennial Catholic conference aimed at strengthening family bonds, is expected to generate more than $417 million in economic benefits for the region, according to early estimates by the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Yet the challenges have put organizers in the unusual position of having to rally businesses and residents to support the appearance of the popular Francis, the first pope to visit Philadelphia in 36 years.
“This is not a moment to be missed,” said World Meeting executive director Donna Crilley Farrell.
Logistics, logistics, logistics
An estimated 1.5 million people are expected to travel to the city for a high-level global Catholic meeting on family issues, the highlight of which will be the visit by the pope. The papal itinerary, punctuated by stops at Independence Hall, a seminary and a prison, will culminate that Sunday with Francis presiding over a public Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway near the art museum whose steps were made famous by Sylvester Stallone in "Rocky."
Philadelphians have been harshly critical of city officials for implementing extreme security measures, including a ban on driving into the downtown area during the weekend, and for devising an overly complicated lottery system for train tickets — and poorly communicating it all.
The decibel level has been so high — with some on Twitter predicting a #popeapocalype — that Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput set aside etherial concerns to warn against "the temptation to focus on possible problems in security, logistics and transportation." (Photo by The Associated Press)
The mayor has been trying to allay anxieties with an online "Papal Playbook," which includes tips on everything from where to worship to how to handle stressed-out pets. Last week, the city launched an "I'll be There" campaign to persuade potential pilgrims that Philadelphia will still be open for business.
"You don't know what to expect," said Luisa Magda, manager of The Bishop's Collar,a bar blocks from the parkway where uncertainty is mixed with the tantalizing prospect of huge sales. She will be upping staff and paring back the menu because of the lack of clarity over deliveries — a concern shared by the giant food purveyor Reading Terminal Market, which only recently resolved to stay open.
"Accessibility keeps changing," Magda said. "I think it's going to keep changing until the week of."
Whether it overdoes or underdoes the papal preparations, Philadelphia risks re-enforcing the notion that it is a second-rate stopover between Washington amd New York City, both of which also will host His Holiness and appear to be taking his arrival in stride.
With its quaint, colonial streets built for carriages rather than motorcades, Philadelphia lacks experience with the crowd-drawing presidential inaugurations and visits from world leaders that are routine on Washington's broad avenues. And the expected influx, potentially doubling the city's population of 1.5 million, is on a scale that New York never sees. (Photo by The Associated Press)
"I don't care who comes to (New York), the population doesn't go from 8 million to 16 (million) overnight," said Charles Layton, who owns a condo close to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and plans to join an exodus of residents as the pious pour in.
Officials are planning for the deluge by redrawing the city's map with colored lines for the two-day papal visit. There's a three-square-mile "traffic box" marked in green, which will be closed to incoming traffic, surrounding a black "secure vehicle perimeter," where private cars will be towed, and inside that is a red fenced "secure perimeter," where pedestrians will undergo airport-type checks.
In response to rumors that every one of the city's 11,500 hotel rooms was already booked, the World Meeting of Families issued this bewildering statement in July: "An individual being told that inventory is 'unavailable' does not mean that the hotel is 'sold out.' Once the inventory is fully opened, we do expect that hotel rooms ...will be full, so we encourage people to consider alternative forms of lodging." (Photo by The Associated Press)
I <3 Pope Francis
Keychains, rosaries, T-shirts and even a miniature plush doll of Pope Francis will be among the souvenirs for sale to commemorate the pontiff's trip to Philadelphia.
"I'm looking forward to soon making my first purchase," said Mayor Michael Nutter, an alumnus of local Catholic schools. "I can assure you, it will be for my mother."
Much of the memorabilia— such as cups, glasses and apparel — will bear the World Meeting logo, which incorporates family figures into a Liberty Bell shape topped with a cross.
Some items are playful, like the shirt that says "I (love) Pope Francis" with a miter in place of a heart. Faith-based products include rosaries and holy medals.
The merchandise will be distributed by Aramark, a food and facilities management company based in Philadelphia, with some proceeds benefiting the local World Meeting organizing committee. Although initially available online only, souvenirs will be sold at retail sites during the convocation. (Photo by The Associated Press)
In Lincoln's shoes
When Pope Francis speaks outside Independence Hall in September, he will stand at the same lectern that President Abraham Lincoln used to deliver the Gettysburg Address.
The Union League of Philadelphia said Friday it would offer the simple wooden stand for the pontiff to use during his planned speech on immigration and religious liberty.
"Its simple beauty and humble role in one of American history's most important moments reflects, in many ways, Pope Francis' own world view," said Robert Ciaruffoli, president of the World Meeting of Families.
Lincoln used the lectern on Nov. 19, 1863, to dedicate part of the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg as a cemetery. His two-minute address — beginning with "Four score and seven years ago" — became one of the most famous speeches in American history.
It ended with Lincoln's resolution that "this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."(Photo by The Associated Press)
The communion hosts
A group of cloistered nuns has been working overtime in the kitchen to help Philadelphia church officials prepare for Pope Francis' visit, baking 100,000 communion hosts for his public Mass.
Religious sisters at the suburban Monastery of St. Clare put in extra shifts for about two months to fill the order, which represents a portion of the wafers that will be offered at the outdoor service on Sept. 27. Up to 1.5 million pilgrims are expected to attend.
"We're very excited," said Sister Anne Bartol. "It is a very special work for us, and we take very good care - extra care - with how we make them."
Here, Sister Holy Spirit, right, and Sister Isabel prepare the oven surfaces to bake altar bread. (Photo by The Associated Press)
As an enclosed community, the Roman Catholic nuns known as Poor Clares don't leave the monastery except for medical reasons. They support themselves financially in part by making hosts, also called altar breads, for about 200 customers across the U.S. and Canada.
The three-hour baking sessions begin around 8:30 a.m. Flour and water are mixed into batter, which is then poured onto a griddle embossed with religious iconography. It bakes for a couple of minutes, emerging as a flat sheet stamped with designs. (Photo by The Associated Press)
After spending time in a humidifier to add moisture - otherwise the bread will shatter when cut - the sheets are placed in a machine that punches out dozens of disc-shaped wafers. The hosts are later inspected, counted, bagged, packaged and sent.
Sisters, including Sister Anne Bartol, seen at left with Sister Isabel, usually make about 125,000 wafers per month using their immaculate and affectionately nicknamed ovens Raphael, Maddalena, Vincent and Benny. (The humidifiers are Archangel and El Rey.) A bag of 500 small hosts costs about $5, plus shipping and handling.
It seems fitting the Poor Clares, an order founded more than 800 years ago, would be asked to help with the pontiff's visit. St. Clare was the first female follower of St. Francis of Assisi, the namesake of Pope Francis.
Poor Clares nuns Sister Holy Spirit, right, and Sister Isabel prepare the oven surfaces to bake altar bread also known as communion wafers, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2015, at the Monastery of Saint Clare in Langhorne, Pa. The nuns are helping to supply wafers for the scheduled Mass being celebrated by Pope Francis on Sept. 27.(Photo by The Associated Press)
Though some nuns dedicate their lives to active ministry and charity work, Poor Clares, including Sister Thereza, seen here counting communion wafers, lead what is known as the contemplative life. The 13 sisters who reside at the monastery in Langhorne, about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia, devote themselves to prayer.
Sister Jean Therese Rossignol entered the community two decades ago after having "always felt the desire to become a religious sister." She had previously worked in the business office of a Maine newspaper and later looked into life as a missionary in Africa. While there, she felt called to return to the U.S. to live a contemplative life.
Yet the Poor Clares aren't entirely secluded. They conduct business via email, maintain a website, and allow the public to visit their chapel. And the sisters say the Philadelphia archbishop has given them a temporary reprieve from their vow of enclosure, permitting them to attend the Mass where their bread will spiritually nourish the faithful.
"We're very much looking forward to being there, to seeing (Pope Francis) in person, and to being together with everyone," Rossignol said.
Inmates in the Philadelphia's correctional system have been working on a stately chair they hand-carved out of walnut.
Rameen Perrin, who said he's spent 13 months behind bars on drug charges, said it meant a lot to be chosen for the papal project. Prisoners were picked based on work ethic, skill and reliability.
"It made me honored because I'm one of the ones that work hard, and they noticed," said Perrin, 21. (Photo by The Associated Press)
The chair was made and refinished at the Philadelphia Industrial Correctional Center, one of six jails in the municipal system. Here, Inmate Michael Green sands a plaque for the chair carved out of walnut.
It will be upholstered at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, where Francis plans to meet Sept. 27 with about 100 prisoners and their relatives during a two-day trip to the city.
Francis has made prison ministry a focus of his pontificate. He meets frequently with inmates and has washed prisoners' feet during pre-Easter rituals. In July, he visited a notorious Bolivian prison where he urged inmates to help one another and exhorted staff to rehabilitate prisoners, not humiliate them. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Anthony Newman, assistant director of a vocational program in the Philadelphia prisons, designed the gift for Francis and has been overseeing its construction by inmates like Evan Davis, seen here. He hopes to see the pontiff enjoy the finished product but isn't sure how the chair will be presented to him.
"The fact that I got the privilege to do the chair is good enough if I never see him sit in the chair," Newman said. "So I'm happy."
The prisoners who get to meet with the pope have not yet been chosen but will include some who made the chair, officials said. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Rolling out the red carpet
A rug firm in suburban Philadelphia has created three specially designed carpets for the upcoming papal visit.
One piece created by the Langhorne Carpet Company, worked on here by Burler Carmen Martine, will be rolled out for Pope Francis' airport arrival and departure in Philadelphia.
That red wool carpet measures 9 feet wide by 75 feet long. It features a gold border with a medallion design inspired by stained glass windows in the city's cathedral. (Photo by The Associated Press)
The other two carpets, which are green and gold, will be placed in the rectory at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. They use the same medallion motif.
All three carpets were woven on broad looms at the company in Penndel, about 20 miles north of Philadelphia. (Photo by The Associated Press)
Undoer of Knots
Artist Meg Saligman is worked on an art installation in the shape of a latticed grotto that greet Pope Francis and millions of others when they travel to Philadelphia. Visitors will be invited to leave their own problems behind in the form of knots affixed to its walls, or help others by loosening and removing a knot already in place.
"It's deeply moving to see the universal quality of these struggles," said Saligman.
Organizers are crossing their fingers that Francis, who celebrates Mass at the basilica on Sept. 26, will visit the installation because it's inspired by one of his favorite paintings, "Mary, Undoer of Knots." The artwork shows Mary untangling a long ribbon — a symbol for smoothing life's difficulties.
The painting hangs in a church in Augsburg, Germany, where then-Rev. Jorge Mario Bergoglio saw it while studying in the mid-1980s. Deeply touched, the future pope brought copies back to Argentina, where a huge devotion grew and spread to neighboring Brazil and beyond. Its title can also be translated as "Mary, Untier of Knots." (Photo by The Associated Press)
"Even the most tangled knots are loosened by (God's) grace," Francis said during a 2013 prayer in St. Peter's Square, referring repeatedly to the "knots" encountered in everyday life.
Knots for the project here have been gathered worldwide. At a recent public event outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, passers-by wrote their burdens on strips of cloth and then tied the fabric in a knot. Challenges ranged from addictions to student loans to health problems.
Participants were then invited to undo someone else's knot — to symbolically share that person's hardship — and weave it through a loom for all to see.
"I thought it was nice to be aware of someone else's pains, someone else's struggles, and that you're not alone," said Abigail Quintos of Rochester, New York. "A lot of other people are going through tough times in their lives." (Photo by The Associated Press)
Here, John McDonald adds to the installation, which is being financed by the nonprofit homeless advocacy group Project Home.
In another sign of the painting's importance to him, the future pope distributed prayer cards to well-wishers featuring the image when he was ordained an auxiliary bishop in 1992. As pontiff, Francis had the image carved into a chalice that he presented to Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, whose former archdiocese houses the original artwork. (Photo by The Associated Press)
The official milkshake
Students sample a milkshake with Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia to pick a milkshake for the World Meeting of Families at a Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Philadelphia. Paglia met with about a dozen students at the shop in downtown Philadelphia to pick the milkshake that would benefit planning efforts for the event. Paglia, the president of the council in charge of the event, settled on the flavor “#PopeInPhilly.” Pope Francis will attend the closing event Sept. 26 of the world meeting. Fifty cents from every shake sold at three locations will benefit planning for the events. (Photo by The Associated Press)
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