The World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015 today announced that Pope Francis will use the Gettysburg Lectern, which was used by President Abraham Lincoln to deliver the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, for his historic address at Independence Hall on Saturday, September 26.
Courtesy of The Abraham Lincoln Foundation of The Union League of Philadelphia (“the ALF”), the lectern from which President Lincoln spoke just 272 words in dedicating part of the battlefield as the first National Soldiers Cemetery is part of the J. Howard Wert Collection and is on long-term loan from a private collector.
The Battle of Gettysburg occurred July 1-3, 1863, around the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Although it began as a small skirmish, more than 160,000 Americans became involved in the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, which effectively decided the fate of the Union. When President Lincoln visited Gettysburg four months later, he offered just a two minute oration, which closed with the immortal words that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Today, The Gettysburg Address remains one of the most quoted and well-known speeches in American history.
“We are both honored and grateful for the generosity of the Abraham Lincoln Foundation in offering the Holy Father the opportunity to speak from The Gettysburg Lectern at Independence Hall,” said Robert J. Ciaruffoli, President of the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015. “Its simple beauty and humble role in one of American history’s most important moments reflect, in many ways, Pope Francis’ own worldview. To have this man of faith who speaks for peace, love and religious freedom around the world, use President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Lectern to address all those who will come to see him in Philadelphia, will be a deeply moving moment for all.”
The Gettysburg Lectern is on display at the Sir John Templeton Heritage Center of The Union League of Philadelphia, which is open to the public. However, the lectern will only be on display through August, as it will then be specially prepared by historic conservators for use by the Holy Father.
“The Gettysburg Lectern is one of the most historic artifacts in American history and we are privileged to have Pope Francis use it to deliver his address in Philadelphia,” said John Meko, Executive Director for the Foundations of the Union League, of which the Abraham Lincoln Foundation is one of three. “The words delivered by President Lincoln more than 150 years ago on the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg still define the United States and the principles by which this great country lives. With Independence Hall, the most historic building in America, selected as an official site for the Papal visit in June, it seemed only appropriate to provide the Holy Father with the opportunity to deliver his message to the world from the lectern at which President Lincoln gave the most famous speech in American history.”
Co-sponsored by the Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the World Meeting of Families is a triennial global event that seeks to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe and highlight its intrinsic value to the good of society. This international gathering will welcome Pope Francis to the United States for the first time in his Papacy. Being held in the United States for the first time ever, the official theme for the 2015 World Meeting of Families is “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.”
For more information regarding the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, visit www.WorldMeeting2015.org.
For more information regarding The Holy See’s Pontifical Council for the Family, which co-sponsors the World Meeting of Families, visit http://www.familiam.org/famiglia_eng/00002554_HOME_ENG.html.
You can also engage the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia on Facebook (World Meeting of Families 2015) (Encuentro Mundial de las Familias – Filadelfia 2015), Twitter (@WMF2015) (@WMF2015ES) and Instagram (WMF2015).
About World Meetings of Families
Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015). Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe.
About The Abraham Lincoln Foundation of The Union League of Philadelphia
The Abraham Lincoln Foundation of The Union League of Philadelphia (“the ALF”) was established in 1996 to enhance, maintain and exhibit the historic collections of archives, manuscripts, library material, objects and art of The Union League of Philadelphia, and to use the League’s collections to conduct educational programs for League members, scholars, students and the general community. The ALF is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and is a separate legal entity from the Union League itself.
In 2011, the ALF completed construction of The Sir John Templeton Heritage Center (“the Heritage Center”). The Heritage Center is an 8,500 square-foot research, program and exhibit space on the ground floor of the Union League. This space allows direct access to the Heritage Center from Broad Street. It encompasses an exhibit room, programming space, office space, a research area and a state-of-the-art collections storage vault. The ALF shares the office space within the Heritage Center with the League’s other two charities – the Youth Work and Scholarship Foundations.
The ALF presents exhibits, lectures, and other educational programs that focus on the history and heritage of the Union League and the Civil War. These programs reach thousands of students and scholars each year. Most of these programs are provided without charge. For more information on the ALF, or the Union League, visit www.ulheritagecenter.org.
About The Union League of Philadelphia
The League was founded in 1862, during the Civil War, as a statement of civic determination on the part of patriotic Philadelphians who would not let the American Union be divided. During the course of the war, The League became the leading propaganda machine for Lincoln and the Union. In addition, it raised more than 20,000 troops and was a leading advocate for emancipation and civil rights. Perhaps no other private organization did more for Lincoln and the Union cause than The Union League of Philadelphia.
The League’s important connection to and support of Lincoln cannot be overstated. Abraham Lincoln was the first to receive the League’s prestigious Gold Medal in 1863. In early 1864, the League was the first major organization to support his reelection. His primary economic advisor, Henry Charles Carey, was a founding League member, and it was the League that commissioned the first portrait of Lincoln shown as the Great Emancipator. This painting, which was painted from life at the White House in early 1863, was hung in Independence Hall, and now hangs prominently in the League’s largest and most impressive room, Lincoln Hall.
Today, the League is ranked, the #1 City Club in the Country. The League’s membership represents leaders in education, business, government, arts and medicine, and they continue the tradition of a membership of active civic, philanthropic and patriotic citizens.