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PHILADELPHIA/ For 100 Years, "The City's Voice"

June Sun 26, 2011

Wanamaker Organ  Wanamaker Organ

However they've been interpreted over the years in some places, the Council documents state clearly that "in the Latin church the pipe organ is to be held in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind to God and to higher things." Ergo, celebrating said "wonderful splendor" isn't just something limited to the high-culture crowd but, really, a manifestation of the spirit of Vatican II.

Along those lines -- even if it isn't in a worship-space, at least per se -- as today (June 22 – editor’s note) marks the 100th anniversary of the planet's most massive set of playable pipes, the River City's own Wanamaker Organ (located in what's now Macy's), let the church pay tribute...Originally built in smaller form for the 1904 World's Fair in St Louis and considerably enlarged on its acquisition by John Wanamaker, the "heroic instrument" still plays at least twice a day, for free, in the Center City temple where, come year's end, it shares the sanctuary with the beloved Light Show (albeit in the latter's botched, perhaps Masonic-inspired, Novus Ordo format).

For the record, the Wanamaker isn't the only house organ marking a century this week -- today in Pittsburgh brings the opening of the annual Catholic (Old-)Media Convention, this year's celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Catholic Press Association on these shores... and in a special treat for the festivities, the "patron saint" of ecclesial newsrooms everywhere will be on hand to blow out the candles and cut the cake.

Despite pronounced weakness and the ongoing effects of the leukemia that forced him to retire far earlier than he would've wished, John Cardinal Foley traveled west earlier today for what could be his valedictory appearance before his colleagues, and to receive another meaningful, impeccably-merited tribute as the association establishes a lifetime-achievement award named in his honor. To be sure, the 75 year-old "Voice" of Vatican Christmas for English-speakers worldwide isn't marking his own 100th this year -- and, in his inimitably kind but clear way, would be none too pleased if anyone thought he was.



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