In light of Pope Francis’ recent visit to Philadelphia, one Temple student was given the opportunity to research and create an exhibit from start to finish, surrounding the 1979 visit from Pope John Paul II.
Angela Indik, a 44-year-old American studies major with a history minor, was tasked with the project while interning at the Philadelphia City Archives this past summer.
Indik said the exhibit started as a suggestion from her supervisor.
“They only have the one exhibit when you go in the reading room, and it’s only one subject,” Indik said. “She felt doing something on Pope John Paul II would be very topical in light of Pope Francis’ upcoming visit. … I thought so too.”
Through her findings, which included official documents, photographs, newspaper clippings and memorabilia, Indik built an exhibit that focuses mainly on the two masses—one for the public, one private for the clergy—that took place during Pope John Paul II’s visit. The public Mass took place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, much like Pope Francis’ public Mass in late September.
“The research was really fascinating, because it was such a big event,” Indik said. “Just learning what went into it leading up to the visit and all the controversy surrounding was so interesting.”
As one can imagine, the cost of hosting the Pope is pretty high. For Pope Francis’ visit, city officials set a budget of $45 million at the World Meeting of Families conference, according to the Associated Press. Of that, $12 million was planned to be allocated to policing, traffic and crowd control, fire and emergency medical response and other crucial city upkeep.
The state spent roughly $9 million in federal funding for National Guard personnel; the Secret Service, however, paid far less, as the agency’s annual budget for National Special Security Events like a papal visit is $4.5 million.
Indik found that the funding for Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit caused similar financial controversy.
“The mayor at the time, Frank Rizzo, originally was forcing the City of Philadelphia to pay for the altar and stage for the public Mass with taxpayers’ money,” Indik said. “A lot of people were upset about that, and the ACLU actually ended up suing the city.”
Indik said the Archdiocese of Philadelphia offered to pay in the end.
“Funnily enough, they’d offered to pay right off the bat, but Rizzo didn’t listen,” she added.
For Indik, the exhibit was much more than just a fascinating project—it was an exercise in archiving.
“The whole internship taught me how to be an archivist, to sort through and document and preserve the historical information,” Indik said. “I had to go through boxes and files, and then I had to write things up electronically to make it easier for researchers to find certain things.”
Indik has always had an interest in history and her ancestry, and her time at Temple has really helped her dig deep into her interest.
“Being at Temple, one thing leads to another, which leads to another,” Indik said. “I just get increasingly curious—there’s always so much to dig into.”
Courtney Redmon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.