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Loyola University Museum of Art


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LUMA Welcomes A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People

Exhibit Set to Open April 14, 2007 

CHICAGO, March 27, 2007 - As one of the world's most influential spiritual leaders for over a generation, Pope John Paul II used his papacy to promote tolerance, understanding, and dialogue among the world's religions. On April 14, the Loyola University Museum of Art (LUMA) will celebrate his legacy with the opening of the special exhibition, A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People, which will be on view through August 12, 2007.

The 2,500-square-foot exhibition takes its name from the Pope's 1993 commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, when he stated, "As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing to the world (cf. Gen. 12:2 ff.). This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to be first a blessing to one another."

This national exhibition carries on the long Chicago tradition of interfaith efforts started by Archbishop Bernardin. Cardinal Francis Eugene George, Archbishop of Chicago, welcomed the exhibition to Chicago with these words: "If LUMA's presentation of this exhibit helps its viewers, particularly young people, to build the interfaith relationships of trust, respect, and cooperation for which Pope John Paul II traveled the world and constantly prayed, it will have made an invaluable contribution to the common good of the human family."

Born Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II grew up in Wadowice, Poland, a town where one quarter of his classmates were Jewish. During this time, he was especially close to Jerzy Kluger, the son of the president of the town's Jewish community, who still lives in Rome today and remained a close friend of the Pontiff until John Paul II's death in April 2005.

In the exhibition, eight-foot-high replicas of vintage photographs and postcards serve as the exhibit walls. These photographs, along with artifacts and videos, will take visitors back in time to pre-war Wadowice, the Krakow Ghetto during World War II, and Cardinal Wojtyla's ministry in Krakow and Rome. Visitors will have the opportunity to symbolically retrace the Pope's steps and learn about Jewish life during World War II by walking through a re-creation of the gate of the Krakow Ghetto. As visitors leave the exhibition, they will also be able to write prayers and place them in a replica of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, just as the Pope did during his visit to Israel in 2000. These prayers will later be transported to Jerusalem upon the exhibition's closing.

The exhibition's photographs and artifacts are on loan from museums in the United States, Poland, Italy, and Israel. Some of the works include:

  • Reproductions of the Pope's baptismal certificate and high school and college transcripts, on loan from the City of Wadowice Museum.
  • An official license plate, bearing the swastika symbol, from one of five Nazi-owned vehicles used in Wadowice, on loan from the City of Wadowice Museum.
  • Shoes worn by Jewish prisoners at Auschwitz and a can used for Zyklon-B, the chemical used by Nazis to kill Jews in gas chambers. These items have been loaned by the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland.
  • The biretta (red scull cap) the future pope received when named a Cardinal in 1967 and vestments he wore at an inter-religious prayer service in Assisi, loaned by the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC.

The creation of the exhibition itself is a collaborative effort among Xavier University (Cincinnati), the Hillel Jewish Student Center (Cincinnati), and the Shtetl Foundation. Dr. James Buchanan, Rabbi Abie Ingber, and Dr. William Madges, co-creators of A Blessing to One Another, organized the exhibition as a testament to their inter-religious dialogue.

Public Programs:

Tuesday, May 22, 6:00 p.m.
Surrounded by Terror: Life and Death in Occupied Poland during World War II 

World War II proved to be more devastating for Poland than for any other country. Almost six million Polish citizens, including more than three million Jews, were killed during the war, which also consumed much of the country's infrastructure. In addition, Poland was the only allied power that emerged from the war diminished in size despite the many sacrifices and contributions that the Poles made to the war effort. This presentation by Marek Suszko from Loyola's history department will attempt to answer the question about the causes of the Nazi and Soviet invasions of Poland in September 1939, as well as provide a glimpse into the lives and sufferings of the enslaved population of occupied Poland.

Tuesday, June 5, 6:00 p.m.
Freedom from the Riven Earth: Karol Wojtyla's Path to Mature Love 

Loyola associate professor of theology Dennis Martin will discuss the play The Jeweler's Shop, in which the young priest Karol Wojtyla tells us that freedom arises within the frenzy and tangles of life and that it rises under pressure from rifts in the earth. In a Poland squeezed and riven by the tyrannies of Hitler and Stalin, the future Pope John Paul II discovered, in the deepest resources of Christian faith and Polish culture, a vision of freely chosen selflessness in the face of suffering.

Tuesday, June 19, 6:00 p.m.
John Paul II and Jewish-Catholic Relations 

The first Pope since Saint Peter to live among Jews, John Paul II's efforts vastly improved Catholic-Jewish relations, based upon both his personal experience and the teachings of Vatican II. Join Rabbi Byron Sherwin of the Spertus Institute to see how and why this influential Pope brought about such profound healing and learn about its implications for the present and the future.

Tuesday, July 24, 6:00 p.m.
A Blessing to Each Other: John Paul II's Vision of the Catholic-Jewish Relationship

Pope John Paul II spoke and wrote more about the positive aspects of the Catholic-Jewish relationship than any other pope in history. This presentation by Father John Pawlikowski, O.S.M., of the Catholic Theological Union will highlight how he understood this relationship in the context of profound theological bonding between the two religious communities.

Tuesday, August 7, 6:00 p.m.
The Future of Jewish-Catholic Relations 

Jewish-Catholic relations are at a historical high point. How will they continue to grow and develop? Join Rabbi Evan Moffic from Chicago Sinai in a discussion about what trends in each of these traditions will affect their relationship, and how we can continue to build on the powerful achievements of the twentieth century.

Program Details:
Each of the public programs listed above will take place in the William G. and Marilyn M. Simpson Lecture Hall at LUMA (820 N. Michigan Ave.), and is free for LUMA members and $5 for non-members. Reservations are strongly suggested, and can be made by e-mailing luma@luc.edu or calling 312-915-7630. For more information on educational programs related to this exhibition, or for group tours, please also contact 312-915-7630.

Major funding for the Chicago presentation has been provided by the Chicago Chapter of The American Jewish Committee. Additional generous sponsors include the Catholic Theological Union, The Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, The Polish National Alliance, Phil O'Connor and Lynn Carlson, and Mitch and Fran Wiet.

A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

About LUMA
Opened in 2005, the Loyola University Museum of Art is dedicated to exploring, promoting, and understanding art and artistic expression that illuminates the enduring spiritual questions of all cultures and societies. As a museum with an interest in education and educational programming, LUMA reflects the University’s Jesuit mission and is dedicated to helping people of all creeds explore the roots of their faith and spiritual quests. Located at Loyola University Chicago’s Water Tower Campus, the museum occupies the first three floors of the University’s historic Lewis Towers on Chicago’s famous Michigan Avenue. For more information, visit the museum’s website at LUC.edu/luma.

Art illuminating the spirit!