Black smoke billowed from the Vatican Tuesday afternoon, signaling no decision has been made regarding a new pope. As the eyes of the world are focused on Vatican City for the conclave, hundreds of historic papal artifacts are being prepared to go on display at the Diocese of Lubbock honoring Pope John Paul II. Father Malcolm Neyland has been working on the exhibit for almost two years.
"This is the first time that the Vatican City State has ever loaned out this many objects of a former Pontiff," Neyland said.
The exhibit is expected to bring in over 200,000 people to the Hub City from around the world. From his upbringing in Poland to his final days as pontiff, this exhibit will feature artifacts from every aspect of Pope John Paul II's life.
"It goes above and beyond because this man was so well loved and liked," Neyland said.
Lubbock is the first stop for the exhibit that will travel to major cities when it departs at the end of May. The exhibit also marks the first time the Vatican has released a large amount of papal artifacts outside of Rome and with the conclave in full swing, the timing couldn't be more perfect.
Lubbock's Bishop, Rev. Placido Rodriguez says this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for even those who don't associate with Catholicism. Rodriguez says at this time the world "can very much identify with all these events in the Vatican."
A new pope could very well be decided by the time the exhibit opens later this week. Rodriguez says, he trusts the Cardinals with the task at hand.
"They know themselves, they know who's traveled the whole world, they know who understands the church," Rodriguez said.
And the Bishop prays the new pope will be someone who shares the values of Pope John Paul II, "this great man, who was able to influence the entire century."
A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held Thursday afternoon and the exhibit will open to the public on Friday and go through May 31st. For ticket information, please visit www.startickets.com.
Copyright 2013 KCBD. All rights reserved.