Nope, this is not a replica of the Ark of the Covenant. Can you guess what it is? The little pin at the top might give you the hint you need.
It's an enormous base to what I assume must have been an incredible monstrance. This base features scenes from the Gospels (most notably the Last Supper and the Multiplication of the Loaves). The "paws" that hold up the ark portion seem to be those of a lion, and I don't know that you can really see them, but framing each scene are a pair of cherubs. The entire thing is gold-plated. Shiny, right?
In this gallery that housed this, I found all sorts of liturgical goodies:
This is one of the chalices Pope St. John Paul II would have used. It has four Polish saints engraved around the base (including St. Stanislaus who is pictured above). To give you an idea as to how big the actual bowl of the chalice is, take a look at the one that follows after it. A beautiful chalice in it's own right, that one is less than half the size of the first! Even the patens give you an idea of the size difference. The other chalice was given to the Vatican by Pope St. John Paul II and has an image of the Last Supper around its bowl. Fitting, no?
Next up we've got a few interesting artifacts:
And this is a gilded Roman Missal. Imagine carrying this to and from your daily Mass. Ha!
The next gallery was devoted to the missionary work of the Church. There were a few things in here that caught my eye:
The two images above are from a letter to the pope from a local Chinese bishop. This bishop wrote to the pope on red silk (which was typically reserved for messages sent to the Chinese Emperor). I can't even begin to imagine how long it took to craft such an exquisite letter on fabric. I just kept wondering if he had to start over and over again because of "typos." It was such a long letter! I imagine it was about 2 yards long, and each "character" only about the size of a nickel.
There was also a gorgeous blue tapestry that I knew wouldn't come out nearly as beautiful on my phone:
The exhibit also featured something akin to the Hall of Presidents. Instead of presidents, however, it was a gallery of popes. While I love sacred art, I don't believe that portraits of popes constitute sacred art, so I breezed through this area with barely a glance. That being said, I did enjoy the closing room which focused on modern saints like JPII and Mother Teresa.
In addition to these paintings of Pope St. John Paul II (the one on the right which I just love), there was an impressive statue of Mother Teresa that likely served as the model for the familiar ones we've seen of her cradling a small child. I took a few photos because the details were just so striking:
In this same room was a votive lamp which, if you look closely, features the Holy Spirit and other symbols of our Faith. The Theotokos is also present at the base, and the quartz stones that surround the triangles are so surprising! It was a gift to Pope St. John Paul II.
Finally, since this entry is getting a bit long, I'll end with the very last piece in the exhibit - a bronze cast of JPII's hand. And me putting my hand into it. Special appearance by a gorgeous bracelet made by Cam over at A Woman's Place. :)
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