Countdown to the visit of Pope Francis: Part 3: Papal visit merchandise, memorabilia, souvenirs, and keepsakes

Counting down:

 Just six days until Pope Francis arrives in the USA! 

Papal memorabilia galore:
If you are traveling in the vicinity of the cities that Pope Francis will visit next week, you will likely see lots of displays of souvenirs related to this first apostolic visit to the United States.
Memorabilia vendors are as varied as their offerings. There are official vendors authorized by the various dioceses and the 2015 World Meeting of Families. There are also unofficial outlets, many of which offer cheap trinkets at a low cost to make a fast buck. 
Pope Francis bobble heads, anyone?  
Serious collectors and those who wish to purchase gifts for lasting memories should look toward the official merchandise for sale on the official papal visit websites. These authorized vendors have a vast array of items, including rosaries, medallions, prayer cards, books, artwork, mugs, and apparel with official logos. 
Shop in person:
If you want to take a road trip to Philly in the next week or if you plan to attend either if the papal gatherings on September 26-27, you can shop in person. 
Aramark is the official vendor for the World Meeting of Families and the visit of the Holy Father to Philadelphia. They had a grand opening last Wednesday for their official World Meeting of Families merchandise shop in the Aramark Tower at 1101 Market Street in downtown Philly. 
According to their website, other locations will be open next week during the Congress and papal visit at the convention center, on Independence Mall on September 26, and on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 26-27. 
Official vendors will also be on-sight at locations near the papal events in New York City and Washington, D.C. 
Online purchases: 
For online purchases, the official catalog with over 200 commemorative items is available here
Proceeds will benefit the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 and the visit of Pope Francis. 
For info on the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, visit their website here
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My collection of papal visit memorabilia:

Being an aficionado of anything related to Church history and the papacy, I have huge collection of papal memorabilia. I am also a Vatican philatelist with an enormous collection of stamp albums, first day covers, postcards, and Vatican yearbooks. 
So it shouldn’t surprise you that I have lots of mementos from past papal visits to the United States. I gathered as many items from my collection as I could in 15 minutes and took photos to share. 
Above: From 1965:
Pope Paul VI was the first pontiff to visit our country. Though I didn’t participate in this 14-hour visit, I have two books with lots of photographs and excellent coverage.
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Above: Pope St. John Paul II made seven trips to the United States during his 27-year pontificate.
Here are some of the many books that recap his visits.
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Above: 1979: 
The first time I saw Pope John Paul II was in Philadelphia during his very first visit to the USA. The Mass he celebrated on there Wednesday, October 3 was held in the same location where Pope Francis will say Mass on September 27. 
The third trip of his papacy (the first was to the Dominican Republic and Mexico; and the second was to his native Poland), it occurred exactly one year after the conclave which elected this pope who would become a saint.
Though I have a number of keepsakes from that historic week, including items from my volunteer work that week at the on-site Catholic Press office, I have only included three items here:
Souvenir edition of Newsweek magazine, the famous Pope John Paul II collectors edition comic book, and a signed copy of Pope John Paul II: A Festive Profile written by my college professor, Rev. Ludvik Nemec, who was an old friend of the Holy Father. 
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Above: World Youth Day 1993 in Denver was the occasion of another visit of Pope John Paul II. Though I did not attend since I had three young children, one of my John Carroll students, Kristy Manning, JC Class of 1996, won a contest and represented our school. Kristy was especially excited since she was not Catholic and loved our Holy Father. She had a wonderful experience with the youth celebration from St. Margaret Church in Bel Air, and brought me a gift to show her gratitude for my support in encouraging her to apply for the contest. The framed First Day covers, which were hand-stamped daily from August 12-15, were proudly displayed in my classroom and in my Campus Ministry office until I retired from John Carroll last year. When I see them, I think of Kristy and her experiences at World Youth Day with Pope John Paul II!
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Above: The 1995 visit of Pope St. John Paul II to Baltimore was one of the highlights of my life.
And my collection of mementos show it… 
A Religion teacher at John Carroll at that time, I was part of the committee that coordinated the service of our youth as city ambassadors and parade honor guard. 
My service allowed me to participate in the youth concert at Pier Six the night before the papal visit. Performers included Boyz II Men, Michael W. Smith, and Kathy Troccoli. 
The highlight, the Holy Father speaking live to the youth via satellite on the big screen from NYC,
“But the loudest cheer of the evening was reserved for a 75-year-old from Rome who wasn’t even there, a transplanted Pole who closed the concert not with a song, but simply by telling the crowd by satellite that he was looking forward to his visit to Baltimore.”
Seen from left: The official commentaries book from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, along with the video and the bumper sticker, the next week’s edition of The Catholic Review with special section of papal coverage, the Gospel of John which was distributed to those who attended the Mass at Camden Yards, the Mass program and booklet “A Faith-filled Celebration,” and the 1996 commemorative calendar.

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Above: Here’s the colorful hat that my then-11 year old daughter Meighan got at the youth concert,
along with our Mass tickets, my staff badge, and the tickets, parking pass, and program
for the Departure Ceremony that my then-9 year old son Joseph and I attended at BWI airport
before the Holy Father departed for his return trip to Rome. 
Memories to last a lifetime!
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Above: 2008:
I was proud to lead four buses from our Archdiocese with the Harford County pilgrims who attended the Mass of Pope Benedict XVI at Yankee Stadium on April 15, 2008. The congregation of almost 60,000 people from every state in our country gathered to celebrate the bicentennial anniversary of “the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville from the mother See of Baltimore.
Everyone who attended received a packet of materials which included the Gospel of Luke, the Catholic Digest, and a water bottle.

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Above: I collect Mass programs from historic occasions too:
Here’s the Mass program from Holy Father Emeritus’ Mass at Yankee Stadium and my family’s tickets. 
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Above: People give me stuff… 

Over the years I have received a number of gifts of papal and church-related memorabilia from families who just don’t know what to do with it anymore and don’t want to discard it.
Here’s an example of a framed certificate of authenticity from the Archdiocese of New York with a small section of carpet from formed a 1000-foot gold cross on the stage at the October 7, 1995 Mass of Pope John Paul on the Great Lawn of Central Park.

“A procession of 1600 church dignitaries filed over this monumental cross to offer communion to the more than 200,000 faithful who celebrated the historic Mass, the highlight of the Holy Father’s 1995 World Tour.”
Yes, I have this in my home office.
By all means, send your Church-related collectors’ items my way!

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Do you have any interesting papal memorabilia?
I want to hear about it: 
Send me an email to: pattimurphydohn@gmail.com.
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Read more from my series on the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the United States:

Part 1 includes all the basics that you should know: 
Part 2 includes lots of memories from those who attended or participated in past papal visits to our country:
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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.