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State Historical Society of Iowa Press Release

For immediate release September 15, 2009

Contact: Jeff Morgan, Jeff.Morgan@iowa.gov, (515) 281-3858

Historical Museum display showcases Pope John Paul II’s trip to Iowa

Visit to Living History Farms drew estimated 350,000 people in 1979

(DES MOINES) – A new display showcasing Pope John Paul II’s visit to Iowa 30 years ago opens Friday at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines.

“Remembering Pope John Paul II: The Iowa Visit 1979” features memorabilia from the Pope’s visit to Iowa in October 1979. The one-case display contains photographs, souvenir medals, gifts, newspapers and other items, including a commemorative medallion on loan from The Diocese of Des Moines. A video featuring film footage of the visit will be shown on a continuous loop as part of the display.

The State Historical Museum is at 600 E. Locust Street in Des Moines. Admission is free and open to the public. Hours are Tuesday-Saturday 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. and Sunday Noon-4:30 p.m. Call 515-281-5111 or visit www.iowahistory.org for more information.

“More than 350,000 people gathered at Living History Farms to see Pope John Paul II,” Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs Director Cyndi Pederson said. “The visit is believed to be the largest single gathering of Iowans in the state’s history and included an ecumenical service followed by a celebration of Mass. I encourage all Iowans and visitors to our state to come see this display.”

During his trip to Iowa, Pope John Paul II also stopped at St. Patrick’s Church at Irish Settlement in Madison County, the only rural church he visited on his first trip to the United States as Pope.

Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005, was leader of the Roman Catholic Church for less than a year when he visited Iowa. He is considered one of the most dynamic and inspiring religious figures of the 20th century.

“Remembering Pope John Paul II” will be on display in the State Historical Museum atrium through Nov. 20, 2009.


The State Historical Society of Iowa is a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, and is a trustee of Iowa's historical legacy and an advocate for understanding Iowa's past. It identifies, records, collects, preserves, manages and provides access to Iowa's historical resources. Its dual mission of preservation and education serves Iowans of all ages, conducts and stimulates research, disseminates information, and encourages and supports historical preservation and education efforts of others throughout the state. Visit www.iowahistory.org or call 515-281-5111 for more information.


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