Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Oct. 8, 1979)
Pope's visit boosts sales of Catholic religious goods
By Mike Sweeney
DES MOINES-When about 340000 people, five
bishops, three archbishops, and one pope gather for the
largest mass in the history of Des Moines, it means big
business to the city's Catholic supply store.
This has been a kind of a gift we didn't expect,"
James Vitiritto, proprietor of Catholic Religious Goods,
told an inquisitive customer.
Vitiritto said business usually is in a slump in August,
September and early October. Customers buying religious
Christmas presents, such as medals, photographs and cross
es don't begin to trickle In until late in October.
But Wednesday, Oct. 3, 1979 did not follow form.
'I've been constantly having to wait on customers
from the time I opened the door until now (5:30 p.m.),"
Vitiritto said. "I've had no time to have lunch except for a
few sips of coffee."
HE SAID POPE John Paul li s scheduled visit to Des
Moines on Thursday accounted for 99 percent of the bus
Customers crowded around a small counter in the back
transformed for visit
By Alice Hrnicek
DES MOINES-Living History Farms a monument to
agriculture, may seem the most natural place for Midwest
ern farmers to host their Catholic leader.
But the transformation from an active but simple
monument to an outdoor cathedral which could hold
hundred of thousands of worshippers did not occur
Preparations for Pope John Paul IIs visit to the histori
cal site took months of planning and voluntary labor,
according to Vincent King, farm manager.
Crops were harvested prematurely, fences removed,
roads graded, rabies laid and a $37,000 sound system
The three farms, portraying past, present, and future
agriculture, cover 600 acres. Corn, beans, alfalfa, cattle,
hogs, eight work horses and a team of oxen were included.
REMINDERS OF pioneer days dot the 1840 replica
farm while horses and steampower equipment are seen on
the 1900 farm. Modem farming methods are practiced on
the farm of Today and Tomorrow.
The more than 40 employees and Volunteers at the site
were seated in a special section next to the farm buildings
and spot of the pontiffs helicopter landing.
'This is the most happy day of all our lives," said
Mabel King, wife of the farm manager. She was respon
sible for getting security clearances for people in the liv
ing History section and for coordinating the annual corn
husking contest which was to begin Saturday, just two
days after the Pope's visit.
Carol Rees, who compiles satistics for the farms'
annual festivals, said the visit would help to publicize Liv
ing History Farms around the world.
The concept of the outdoor museum began in 1967
with Dr. William Murray, an Iowa State University agricul
tural professor. Although he had no funds to purchase
land, contributions allowed the non-profit educational
historical foundation to buy 171 acres of land at $1,200
LAND HAS BEEN purchased five times since then, and
more than 150,000 people toured the farms last year.
Two main festivals, a grain cutting contest and a corn
picking contest, highlight each year, said volunteer Jim
Dooley, a sociology major at ISU.
People can get right in and pitch bundles," he said
referring to Saturday's contest. "Anyone can be a
Annual events also include plowing matches, craft
shows, July 4th celebrations, horse and buggy days, and
The altar base, centered on top of a hill surrounded by
manicured fields and other hills rising in the background,
is 78 feet long and 68 feet at its widest point. More than
365 tons of earth were piled on to raise the platform
five feet. ...
" A lectern for the Mass and a pulpit for the choirs were
buat with thousands of feet of board planking. One free
and chrysanthemums, marigolds, zinnias and other
flowers were planted to add color to the display.
Assembled for security measures were 350 oil drums,
three miles ot snow fencing, seven miles of rope and
thousands of Iteel fence posts. Medical lanes for emer
gencies were spaced throughout the acreage
To accommodate more than 1,000 press people, the
Des Moines Diocese set up a press tent, TV towers and
three photographers platforms.
The visit was to be paid by the Des Moines Diocese
and contributions from spectators, Free will donation
boxes buried six feet In the ground were available to
spectators wishing to contribute.
An organization of central Iowa contractors donated
materials, equipment and labor to build the Papal stage.
of the tiny downtown Des Moines store, buying medals
and other religious articles for the pope to bless.
Many of them were Protestants, Vitiritto said.
"They say Tm not Catholic but I'm going to see the
pope and I want to send these to friends in California or
Arizona,"' he said.
Both Catholics and Protestants seemed drawn toward
the pope's spiritualism, Vitiritto, a Catholic,' said.
"I really feel most people consider him to reflect the
epitome of spiritualism," he said. "If you get anywhere
near him, you feel this. Watching him on TV is not the
THE RUSH of customers had depleted the store's
stock of many religious items.
Vitiritto said he sold almost all his rosaries by Wednes
day. Men's rosaries, of heavy, dark beads, sold out, and
only a few of the smaller, lighter colored women's rosaries
But they also would disappear in the few hours he
planned to operate the store Thursday morning. Vitiritto
said he planned to attend the pope's mass, but he intend
ed to open the shop for two or three hours to accom
modate the elderly people who were to catch a bus to the
The items left oh his store's shelves testified to the
pope's popularity. Shoppers could buy a record album,
"Habernus Papam" (We have a pope) for $9.95; a com
posite picture of the last four popes, a high relief photo
graph of Pope John Paul, or a "Bless our Home" plaque
picturing Jesus and the pope.
THEY ALSO could buy the bowler's prayer plaque for
$4.50: "May the Good Lord help me reach my goal of a
perfect score each time I bowl."
However, Vitiritto said the most popular items were
papal medals and a replica of the pastoraf cross favored by
Rosaries ran a close second, he said.
Although enterprising businessmen sold everything
from T-shirts to key chains to commemorate the pope's
visit, Vitiritto limited the number of papal Items in his
He said he prayed for divine guidance to help him
select items in good taste. He knew hawkers would be sell
ing T-shirts in the streets Thursday morning, he said.
"I stayed away from souvenir items. I don't feel my
store should be a place for that."
...... i- m
- v l - -
Photo by Mike Sweeney
Threatening morning skies didn't dampen this couple's anticipation for the pope's arrival. The clouds cleared
before the pope arrived.
Protestants help finance pope's visit
By Mike Sweeney
DES MOINES-Protestant and Jewish organizations
supported and helped finance Pope John Paul U's visit to
Des Moines, but a fundamentalist group warned of the
pope's imminent "takeover" of America.
The United Methodist Church and the Des Moines Jew
ish Welfare Association each gave the Des, Moines diocese
$1 ,000 to help defray the costs of the pope's visit.
"We worship the same entity, the same God," Debbie
Hansen of the United Methodist information office said.
She said she saw no reason why Methodists shouldn't
help the Roman Catholic church.
However, one Episcopal rector said his church could do
little to aid the Catholics during the pope's visit.
"The Romans are running their own show," he said.
TTie Rev. Sam Hochstatter, pastor of First Baptist
Church, said he was enthusiastic about the pope's visit,
but said he received letters from a right wing funamental
ist group denouncing the pope.
Hochstatter said three pamphlets printed by a
Canadian publishing company arrived in two separate
mailings. The pamphlets, which he threw away, warned
that the popes American visit was the beginning of his
"Those days of hostilities, resentment, and jealousies
they need to be moved aside," Hochstatter said.
Theologians may argue about the purity of religious
doctrine, but "for it to spill out into the community is
very unfortunate," he said.
Hochstatter said although Baptists and Roman Catho
lics are on opposite ends of the religious spectrum, there is
no reason why they couldnt cooperate.
Jerry L. Schmalenberger, pastor of Saint John's
Lutheran Church, agreed.
In a sermon in the form of a letter to Pope John Paul
II, Schmalenberger said, "We Lutherans. . .still have dif
ferences in the theology and social ethics with you. But,
so do I have differences with my wife and kids and good
friends-but they still remain one family and close friends.
Hochstatter said the pope's visit was the first time he
could remember open communication between Baptists
and Catholics in Des Moines.
He attributed the cooperation to ecumenical spirit and
the immense popularity of the pope.
Pope John Paul has captured the public's imagination
by confronting issues as a religious authority," Hochstat
The issues th pope has addressed, from abortion to
birth control, cut across church lines, he said.
Schmalenberger said he hoped the pope's visit would
stimulate people to think about spiritual matters.
He said the pope's arrival could help the Holy Spirit
reach the 52 percent of the people In the country who do
not profess church membership.
Powered by Open ONI