World Meeting of Families: The Festivities Begin …

Pope memorabilia was available in the gift shop.

The Pennsylvania Convention Center opened its doors this weekThe Festivities Begin as the World Meeting of Families officially began. Pilgrims from all over the world gathered in the Convention Center to check in, get their T-shirts and other memorabilia in preparation for the Francis Festival this coming weekend.

Pilgrims from waited in line at check in and took selfies in front of a life sized marble casting of Michelangelo’s Pieta, which sat in the lobby. Volunteers in bright orange shirts were there to help masses and direct people where they needed to go.

The Convention Center holds two World Meeting of Families official stores with memorabilia, such as Pope Francis bobbleheads. The Convention Center will host a slew of talks and panels during the meeting, while also, hosting the Youth Center, where Catholic Youth can go and celebrate Christ.

On the Parkway, the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul had an increase in foot traffic. Most visitors were drawn to the courtyard, where the Knotted Grotto is located. The Knotted Grotto is a temporary art installation done in conjunction with Project H.O.ME. and lead artist Meg Saligman. It is based on Pope Francis’ favorite painting, Mary, the Undoer of Knots. The grotto will be open until Sunday.

As per tradition, visitors can write their burdens on a strip of fabric, tie their knot and then untie someone else’s knot, placing it somewhere on the grotto, symbolizing the sharing of burdens.

Text and images by Kathryn Stellato.

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