By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
DAVENPORT — Blessed Pope Paul VI made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1964, inspired by the work of the Second Vatican Council which was underway. His journey marked a series of firsts for the papacy, Bishop Thomas Zinkula said during the Jan. 21 celebration of a new photo exhibit at St. Ambrose University.
The 1964 pilgrimage marked the first time a pope had flown in an airplane, the first papal pilgrimage to the Holy Land and the first time a pope had left Italy in more than a century. Photographs from the pontiff’s journey are among 44 images in the exhibit titled “Building Bridges of Faith: Photographs of Papal Visits to the Holy Land, 1964-2014.” The exhibit continues through Feb. 21 at the Galvin Fine Arts Center and the university’s library. After that, the collection will be displayed at the library until May 11.
The photographs capture the visits of four popes — Blessed Paul VI, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Pope Francis — to nearly a dozen Holy Land sites. Among the places the pontiffs journeyed: the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, recognized as the site of the crucifixion and tomb of Jesus; Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to Holocaust victims; the Cenacle on Mt. Zion, traditionally held to be the site of the Last Supper; and the Western Wall.
“The moment I heard about the availability of this exhibit from the Israeli Consulate in Chicago, I knew that St. Ambrose University would be a perfect host site for it,” said Allan Ross, executive director of the Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities. “My son and I are both alumni of St. Ambrose, and we share the university’s commitment to ‘building bridges of faith’ as one of its core values.”
Bishop Zinkula did some research on each pope’s visit to the Holy Land and shared excerpts from their talks, which he said touched on four themes: holy places, peace and justice, interreligious dialogue and unity of the human family.
Pope Paul VI, in a closing address for the Second Vatican Council’s second session, said: “We wish to go to Palestine in January (1964) to honor personally, in the holy places where Christ was born, lived, died and ascended into heaven after His Resurrection, the first mysteries of our Faith: the Incarnation and Redemption.” The Holy Father also spoke of the desire for peace among all and for the salvation of the entire human race.
In a welcoming ceremony at the Tel Aviv Airport in 2000, Pope John Paul II said: “Many things have changed in relations between the Holy See and the State of Israel since my predecessor Pope Paul VI came here in 1964…. With new-found openness towards one another, Christians and Jews together must make courageous efforts to remove all forms of prejudice.
“We must strive always and everywhere to present the true face of the Jews and of Judaism, as likewise of Christians and Christianity, and this at every level of attitude, teaching and communication.”
Pope Benedict, in an address to Israel’s president in 2009, said: “Jerusalem, which has long been a crossroads for peoples of many different origins, is a city which affords Jews, Christians and Muslims both the duty and the privilege to bear witness together to the peaceful coexistence long desired by worshippers of the one God; to lay bare the Almighty’s plan for the unity of the human family announced to Abraham; and to proclaim the true nature of man as a seeker of God.”
Pope Francis, in an address to Israel’s president in 2014, said: “The Holy Places are not monuments or museums for tourists, but places where communities of believers daily express their faith and culture, and carry out their works of charity.… May Jerusalem be truly the City of Peace! May her identity and her sacred character, her universal religious and cultural significance shine forth as a treasure for all mankind!”
If you go
Viewing hours for the photo exhibit of papal visits to the Holy Land: through Feb. 21 — Galvin Fine Arts Center — Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. At the library — Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The entire collection will be displayed at the library Feb. 22 to May 11.
The free exhibit is designed to illustrate the importance of interreligious dialogue. Its sponsors are the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest, the Diocese of Davenport, St. Ambrose University and its Middle East Institute, Muslim Community of the Quad Cities and Jewish Federation of the Quad Cities.