We were in town for a funeral. A memorial service, actually. Joe’s friend and college roommate recently lost his mother, who had been battling cancer for years. Joe’s AWESOME parents came and stayed with the boys so the two of us could head north and honor P’s mother. Just a few blocks down the street from where we were staying was St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, and on Epiphany Sunday we walked to Mass, navigating the snow and slush.
It stands like a sentinel at the end of the street, looking a bit imposing with its two bell towers and elaborate brickwork. It looks like it needs a little repair work (we noticed at least one broken windowpane on one of the towers), but inside? Magnificent.
Saint Stanislaus was established as an ethnic Polish church, with (naturally) a Polish patron saint. Some of the hymns were sung in Polish. Beautiful!
(I loved the holy water fonts.)
I noticed this little statue of Pope John Paul II. As I was snapping this photo, a nice gentleman came up to me and said, “He was here, you know. He knelt right here and prayed to Our Blessed Mother.” I was genuinely impressed, but at the same time wondered why Saint Stanislaus isn’t called a Basilica, because (I had thought) when a Pope visits a church it automatically becomes one. Turns out, as I read later, that Cardinal Karol Wojtyla visited the church in 1969, before he was Pope. I guess a visit by a future Pope doesn’t a Basilica make. (Although, when we visited Sacred Heart in Atlanta we learned it is also a Basililca; Pope Benedict XVI declared it so in 2010, and as far as I know no Pope ever set foot inside.) It’s so confusing! Ah, well…all the same, that’s pretty neat, don’t you think? I was honored to stand in the place where Karol Wojtyla once stood.
After Mass we had a little bit of time to explore the Senator John Heinz History Center before the lovely and moving memorial service which took place on the fifth floor. P’s mom actually played a big role in helping the History Center become the largest history museum in Pennsylvania. (Franco Harris of Pittsburgh Steelers fame came to the service and sat two rows in front of us. Of course, I never would have known this had Joe not pointed him out and explained who he is; earlier that day we had seen a display in the museum devoted to his famous “Immaculate Reception.” You can watch that play here; and there’s a little mini-documentary about it here. At the 5:40 mark you’ll see St. Stanislaus Kostka Church!)
(Franco, meh… I was WAY more excited to see these shoes. Know whose they are? Think MAJOR childhood icon.)
It was a short visit. Someday we’d like to come and spend more time; bring the kids, maybe go to a Steelers game or ride the Incline. We did have a chance to enjoy a nice dinner on Saturday evening at Six Penn Kitchen with P and his wife K, and some of their friends and family members. We were in stitches listening to some of the family stories, and we were able to catch up on each others’ lives a little bit–trading anecdotes about our kids and such. I am definitely looking forward to another visit with them soon–a longer one at a happier time!
(And in case you are wondering, I DID go to the March for Life this past Friday, and it was wonderful. I’ll have photos and thoughts to share about that soon!)
Happy Sunday; now get thee to church!