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Pope John Paul II


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Friday the Vatican and Pope Francis announced that Pope John Paul II would be canonized.

The news came just two days before an exhibit dedicated to the late pontiff was set to close its doors at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

“Portrait of Faith: John Paul II in Life and Art” was supposed to end its run at NOMA on Father’s Day weekend.  But the museum decided to keep it for a few more weeks.  The decision turned out to be a good one for visitors who also heard the canonization announcement.

“It touches me.  It touches our family,” said exhibit visitor Bruce Cuber who brought his son, wife, and nephew to NOMA Friday afternoon.

Cuber’s wife, Ashley, saw John Paul II during the pope’s visit to New Orleans in 1987.  She attended the youth summit at the Superdome as well as watched the pope’s procession through the streets of the city.

“It gave me goose bumps.  As soon as he passed, I got goose bumps.  And I was just so blessed that my mother took us,” Ashley said.

Other NOMA visitors on Friday were also at the Superdome during the pope’s visit.  Allison McInnis and her mother reminisced as they walked through the exhibit.

McInnis thinks the canonization announcement will mean John Paul II will help more people than ever.

“If we all open our hearts to him and pray for his intercession through Christ, think what we could do in this world.  It would be awesome,” she said.


aymond-gregory-400×225“It is with great excitement we received the news that Blessed John Paul II will be canonized this year.  I am in Rome and there is much excitement here.  Blessed John Paul II was a man of great faith and was an inspiration to Catholics and people of all faiths throughout the world. His spirit and legacy of evangelization remain with our Church and will impact generations to come.  We here in New Orleans have a special connection to Blessed John Paul II since he visited us here in New Orleans in 1987. I am grateful to have been able to experience that visit and to have, in a special way, commemorated it this year in cooperation with NOMA through the exhibit “Portrait of Faith: Jon Paul II in Life and Art.” The success of the exhibit is a testament to what the late pope meant to people of all faiths.  May Blessed John Paul II pray for us!”

- Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans

in nola

Pope John Paul II at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans in September, 1987

ROME (CNN) — The Roman Catholic Church will declare the late Pope John Paul II a saint, the Vatican announced Friday.

Pope Francis signed the decree Friday morning, the Vatican said. John Paul was pope from 1978 until his death in 2005, and was in a way the first rock star pontiff, drawing vast crowds as he crisscrossed the globe.

At his funeral, thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square and chanted “Santo subito” — Sainthood now! The Polish-born pope was fast-tracked to beatification and became “the blessed” John Paul II barely six years after his death, the fastest beatification in centuries.

Pope John XXIII, who convened the Vatican II council in the 1960s, will also be declared a saint, the Vatican said

No date has been announced for the canonization ceremony.

Pope John Paul II, the third-longest serving pope in history, died in April 2005 at the age of 84.

He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease, arthritis and other ailments for several years before his death.

During his tenure, he became the most widely traveled pope in history and canonized more saints than any other pope.

His papacy included a lot of firsts. He was the first modern pope to visit a synagogue and the first pope to visit Cuba.

There are essentially three steps to becoming a Catholic saint after death.

First, the title “venerable” is formally given by the pope to someone judged to have exhibited “heroic virtues.” Second, a miracle must be attributed to the deceased person’s intervention, allowing beatification. Canonization — or sainthood — requires a second attributed miracle.

In 2010, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI approved John Paul’s first reported miracle: a French nun supposedly cured of Parkinson’s disease.

Sister Marie-Simon-Pierre, a nun whose order prayed to the pope after he died, said she was cured of the disease, an ailment that also afflicted John Paul.

The second miracle reportedly occurred in Costa Rica, where a woman said she recovered from a severe brain injury thanks to the intervention of John Paul, sources told CNN Vatican analyst John Allen.

Patrick Kelly, executive director of the Blessed John Paul II Shrine in Washington, explained the church’s process for investigating reported miracles.

“A team of doctors first examine the miracle. Secondly, the team of theologians look at the miracles, and then they discuss amongst themselves the legitimacy and all the facts surrounding the miracles,” he said.

Despite being so beloved, John Paul didn’t live up to expectations at a crucial moment in the church’s history, as revelations of sexual abuse scandals involving thousands Catholic priests erupted across the world in the early 2000s, critics say.

In the United States alone, the scandal involved more than 16,400 victims or alleged victims and cost the church $2.6 billion in settlements, therapy bills, lawyers’ fees and care for priests removed from ministry, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

John XXIII was famed for calling the Second Vatican Council in 1962, which ushered in great changes in the Roman Catholic Church’s relationship with the modern world.

He was pope from 1958 to 1963.

captureHarahan artist Michael Hunt is offering 10,000 prints of his lithograph of Pope John Paul II free!

For $125 the artist will frame the print, and $25 will go to Archbishop Hannan High School.

According to a news release from the high school, U.S. Vatican Ambassador Lindy Boggs chose Hunt to create a portrait of Pope John Paul II as a gift from the people of Louisiana.

The Pope had previously made a personal appeal to artists asking them to use their talent in service to their community and humanity as a whole.

“It was an honor to meet and present to His Holiness my small contribution,” Hunt said.

To request your copy of the print, go to

The much anticipated art exhibit commemorating Pope John Paul II’s visit to the Crescent City opened Friday at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Portrait of Faith: John Paul II In Life and Art can be seen at NOMA until June 16th.

Arch Bishop Gregory Aymond spearheaded the campaign to showcase  art, photography, sculptures and relics which tell the story of The Pope’s historical three day visit.

The Pope was in New Orleans from September 11th thru the 13th, 1987.

Multimedia displays and an audio tour narrated by Harry Connick Jr. help visitors fully grasp the importance and magnitude of Pope John Paul II time in New Orleans.

This exhibit is a collaborative effort between NOMA, the Archdiocese of New Orleans and the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas, TX.

News with a Twist

NOMA Pope Exhibit

Immediately after entering the Pope John Paul II exhibit in the New Orleans Museum of Art it strikes you; beauty, history, dazzling color and if you take a closer look around, the details might surprise you.

“Sitting in my den or working in my office or getting up in the morning I’m thinking to myself, this is the exact place where the Holy Father lived for over 3 days,” says Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

The Archbishop’s headboard, used by the Pope during his 1987 trip to New Orleans, stands proud against the wall, a piece passed down by Archbishop Hannan, treasured yet very mysterious.

“We don’t really know the history. I mean I’ve asked his family, his brother. No one really knows,” says Aymond.

Scott Peck curated the exhibit and jokes with the archbishop about the headboard “When it leaves here, it’s going back to the archbishop’s residence and his head is going to be right here, so it’s a cool thing.”

Among the countless keepsakes from the pontiffs trip to New Orleans, the very vestments he wore are on display. Prior to the exhibit, no one knew where they went. It turns out, the Pope liked them so much he took them with him on the road to San Antonio.

Wendy Vitter is credited with finding the vestments, she called the San Antonio Archdiocese and spoke to the archivist. “He actually wore these in the two separate cities… New Orleanians throughout the city have little mementos from the visit,” she says.

Mementos like china, chairs, pictures, together they create an artistic time capsule.

“Looking at somebody’s face and seeing their face light up when they saw the pope tells the story of the pope’s life,” according to Wendy Vitter who remembers exactly where she was during the 1987 trip.

Archbishop Aymond says the exhibit is more of a spiritual experience, “it gives them the opportunity to walk the journey of his visit.”

“He changed New Orleans, and he changed the world,” says Vitter.

Friday, an exhibit commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II to New Orleans 25 years ago will open at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

“Portrait of Faith — John Paul II in Life and Art” will feature works that may speak to the soul, says Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

Aymond says John Paul the Second was  a man of great faith and a great spiritual leader.