Philadelphia in Review
Good day y’all. Sorry, I have been hanging out with Americans so much this week that I’m starting to talk like them. Julie and I are returning home now on the Empire Service train from our stay in Philadelphia, PA. Since I’m not going anywhere, I thought I would share some experiences that we had with you whilst we lazily wind through the hills of New York State. Sadly I cannot add pictures as the Wi-Fi on this train is slow to the max.
Philly was definitely a cool place. The hipster scene flourishes there. We fit in quite well…okay well, sort of. It is not really a multicultural city like Toronto. It’s as our Cab driver described it, a “Black and White City”. So, there are hipsters and hip hoppers. It was a bit of a culture shock, especially on the world famous South Street, because you are inundated with Rap and Hip Hop. As a huge Christian Metal fan, it took some getting used to. When I hear or see Hip-Hop, that is normally the time when I change the channel. I had to learn to cope and “offer it up”. It was a good primer for the Triduum. Just kidding.
Chris, get to the point! What were some of the great things you experienced?
1. The Saint John Neumann Shrine. First off, this Saint is a boss. He was extremely faithful, loved the Eucharist, and served his people faithfully as priest and eventually the 4th Bishop of Philadelphia. We got to hang out in the Shrine, and it was beautiful There was a statue of Jesus Christ scourged there, known as the “Ecce Homo” or “Behold the Man”, which is what Pilate said to the people of Jerusalem before sending Jesus off to be crucified. It was pretty intense and it showed Jesus standing, bound before Pilate, wearing a red cape, completely torn to shreds. Julie and I just knelt there and cried for a bit. What love! There was a first class relic of St. John Neumann in an ostensorium off to the side of the altar that you can go and put prayer intentions in a slot below it. Just sayin, you are all being prayed for now by him. Deal with it! His tomb is actually embedded in the floor of the sanctuary, right before the tabernacle. There was a museum room, which contained a lot of his personal effects and things that were significant to him, including prayerbooks written in his own hand, and even a dresser that he used to say Mass on when he would go away to a cottage. A little secret, which they do not publicize, and which I attribute to St. John’s inspiration in finding, is a Eucharistic Adoration Chapel off of the left side of the sanctuary. Julie and I got to enjoy being with Jesus super close, and we were the only ones in there. They have a small little gift shop too. Julie and I walked away from it with a Second Class relic – a piece of St. John Neumann’s coffin. Don’t be hatin’. If you go to Philly, visit this shrine on the Northside, because it is absolutely amazing!
2. The Basilica Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. This majestic, brown stone cathedral commands power. It was built in the 1800’s, during the “No-Nothing” era. Due to the great hatred towards Catholicism at that time, they ensured the stained glass windows were too high to throw rocks at. The inside of the Cathedral is beautiful. It is rich with beautiful wood and marble. The main altar has a glorious baldachino that towers over the wedding bed of the altar. There were also side altars which honour different Saints. Something that stuck out to me, more than in any other Cathedral that I have been to, is the Eucharistic element. Their side chapel is dedicated to Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Throughout the cathedral, in mosaic, you’ll see the Eucharist, usually in a monstrance, standing in glory. For me, it made my heart very happy to see that whoever designed the Cathedral mosaics had a strong Eucharistic Spirituality. It is definitely a must see.
3. Jim’s Steaks. This was the highlight of South Street for me. Philly Cheesesteak is SO GOOD! The lines at Jim’s can be a bit long, but the line moves quick. I have never seen a place that slops on so much Cheese Whiz. The atmosphere is like an old 50’s dinner. Their upstairs seating area overlooks the street. The people are courteous and nice and their sandwiches will blow you away. If you visit Philly, you have to try a Cheesesteak and a Hoagie.
If you’re dying to try a Hoagie, there are places that will make them and ship it across the country overnight. No jokes. Sadly, they won’t ship to Canada. Sad stories. Seriously, get it while it’s hot, and do not settle for less!
4. The Liberty Bell and the Constitution. I do not really have anything to say about this besides it was cool, and that you should not leave Philly without seeing at least one of these great moments of American History.
5. Old St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. It is the oldest Catholic Church in Philly. The priest was a bit of an oddball in the confessional, which was more like a sitting room than a confessional. All in all though, it was neat to see it.
6. If you feel like a nice brew (in moderation of course) and you are a bit of a hipster, the Tattooed Mom on South is a great little spot to get a pint.
Things we wished we did not have to see…
-The Masonic Temple. We will be doing a post on this topic down the road on why Masonry is anti-catholic and anti-christian at it’s heart. The Masonic Temple looks bigger than the Basilica and is only a couple blocks away from it (which seems to be a running trend in Masonic Temple locations). It was quite scary.
-The sex and head shops on South Street were quite upsetting. It is a sad part of the city, and a bit of a black spot on the neighbourhood that claims so much fame.
All in all, our trip was great. It was a bit tough finding a cab to hail at times, and there was a lot of walking, but it was well worth it. Our hotel, the Sheraton Society Hill, treated us well. The staff was nice and courteous. We will definitely return for a visit.
I’m going to go now and have a nap. This train is rocking me back and forth like a baby and it’s making me sleepy.
God Bless America!
In the Immaculata,