Powerful people have shown up in Philadelphia from Washington DC to talk about the security of Pope Francis’ visit on September 26 and 27, 2015.
U.S. Secret Service Director Joseph Clancy, Mayor Nutter and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson attending news conference in Philadelphia, 9/18/2015 (DAVID MAIALETTI/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/PHILLY NEWS
A cordon sanitaire has been thrown round almost 30 city blocks from close to the Delaware river on the east all the way to the Schuylkill river towards the west of Philadelphia.
You can walk into and around the secured area. For all the events in the area, you need a ticket. You cannot drive into or out of the secured area or around its periphery. If you live in the area, good luck! Cars are being towed from this area from a week prior to the Pope’s visit. The list of things you cannot take into this area is longer than those you cannot take on board an airplane.
All access roads and highways and bridges into this area will be closed. The Governor of New Jersey has already declared a state of emergency to allow him extraordinary security powers if he should deem them necessary even though the Pope is not going to New Jersey. The governor is in practice for when he becomes president.
All this activity for the most modest of popes. He who will not sleep in any room if Michelangelo is in the room. He who has denied us a glimpse of special red shoes because he does not wear them and probably won’t be wearing the pallium embroidered with the American eagle. And so many other bits of papal clothing which could have been embroidered just for this visit.
Pope Benedict XVI visiting Malta in 2010 and wearing the pallium embroidered with the cross of Malta. More symbolic naval embroidery on the cape.
Our Temporal Overlords cannot afford any security mistakes. It would be a catastrophe, of course, for us all.
But one cannot escape the sensation of a person being taken prisoner because he has powers, old as the millennia, which our Temporal Overlords have never succeeded in containing or using for their own ends without getting their crowns burned.
The featured image is a portrait, 1805, by Jacques-Louis David, 1748-1825, of Pope Pius VII who was forced to Paris in 1804 to bless Napoleon’s coronation. Cardinal Caprara, the emperor’s creature, is with him.
Philadelphia Museum of Art.