Habemus Papam Separation of Powers


Frank Rizzo, 1920-1991, Democratic police chief and mayor of Philadelphia, 1968-1980, genuflecting at Philadelphia International Airport on October 9, 1979 upon the arrival of Pope John Paul II. 

The governor of Pennsylvania, Dick Thornburgh, is smiling (extreme right) at this unaccustomed pose of a political thorn in his Republican flesh.

Pope Francis is to speak on immigration and religious freedom at Independence Hall, Philadelphia on September 26, 2015 using the same lectern as was used by Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in November, 1863, four months after the Union victory there during the American Civil War. (‘The Gettysburg Address’).

Everyone is attached to every last brick of Independence Hall.  To which we are used,  Separation of Powers notwithstanding heretofore and now intermittently diluted by the Supreme Court.  And, of course, there remains Freedom of Speech for those of no matter what stripe who have access to the loudspeaker.

So mayors genuflect and the iconic paraphernalia of a secular state are loaned to a Lord Spiritual and that is that:  nothing to concern us.  Better to think generously about all this.

And separation of this from that is just symbolism, after all.  This is a material world full of material girls and boys. Hundreds of thousands of us will be looking for a quick blessing in case that helps.


Arm Reliquary of St. Babylas, 1467, Germany. Philadelphia Musuem of Art-1                  Arm Reliquary of St. Babylas, 1467, Germany. Philadelphia Musuem of Art-2

Arm reliquary of St. Babylas, in the position of blessing, 1467 CE, Germany.

Silver, gilded silver, enamel, glass paste stones, rock crystals, one amethyst on an oak core.  Artisans unknown.  Philadelphia Art Museum.


Material Girl Madonna, 2012.  Materialism made symbolic.

Pope toaster, $48.95, by Fireworks by Design.  Comestible symbols.


The featured image is a Swabian window, Kneeling Knight in Prayer; c. 1470; in the  Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Galleries of the Philadelphia Musuem of Art.  Stained glass, partially etched and partially painted.

One thought on “Habemus Papam Separation of Powers

Comments are closed.