I’m writing a series of short stories set in St. Louis during Pope John Paul II’s visit to the city in January, 1999. The idea for these stories began swirling around in my head about ten years ago, but I never really went much further than that.
I was living in St. Louis at the time of the Papal Visit, and I wrote down my impressions of what was going on during that visit. Now, going over my notes, I remember how nearly everyone, both Catholic and non-Catholic, was intrigued by the Holy Father. The city literally came to a halt…schools were out, people called off work…to line the streets to get a glimpse of Pope John Paul II during his 31 hour visit.
Now, some 18 years later, I’m ready to write the stories inside of me, with the Papal Visit as the backdrop. However, I have a lot to learn about the visit, my adopted hometown during that time, and the logistics behind the visit. The natural place to go for information would be the St. Louis Archdiocese Archives in Webster Groves. I made my first visit on October 20, 2017, and was I in for a surprise. There was so much information about the Papal Visit that it was a lot to take in. So, I had to be organized. I had to know exactly what I was looking for, and it became easier to sift through all of the information.
I spent nearly four hours in the Archives that first day, and when I left, I knew I would be returning again and again. Afterwards, I sat on the grounds just thinking about all that I had learned about the Papal Visit, but also, about my own church here in St. Louis.
The pictures here just show a little bit of how beautiful the grounds are, and how easy it is to become contemplative in such an environment. Thank you to everyone at the Archdiocese, and the Archives in particular, that helped me with this project.