PHILADELPHIA (AP) — When Pope Francis speaks outside Independence Hall in September, he will stand at the same lectern that President Abraham Lincoln used to deliver the Gettysburg Address.
The Union League of Philadelphia said Friday it would offer the simple wooden stand for the pontiff to use during his planned speech on immigration and religious liberty.
"Its simple beauty and humble role in one of American history's most important moments reflects, in many ways, Pope Francis' own world view," said Robert Ciaruffoli, president of the World Meeting of Families.
The pope's visit to Philadelphia on Sept. 26 and 27 comes at the close of the World Meeting of Families, a triennial Catholic conference designed to strengthen family bonds. The pope will also celebrate a public Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.
Lincoln used the lectern on Nov. 19, 1863, to dedicate part of the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg as a cemetery. His two-minute address — beginning with "Four score and seven years ago" — became one of the most famous speeches in American history.
It ended with Lincoln's resolution 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."
Lincoln, however, was not the featured speaker at the dedication. The wooden stand had been provided by a local professor to help the main orator, Edward Everett, manage extensive notes for a now largely forgotten two-hour speech, said Jim Mundy, director of education and programming for the Foundations of The Union League. The president followed Everett at the lectern.
The stand is on a long-term loan from a private collector to The Union League, which was founded during the Civil War with the goal of preserving the Union. It has been on display at the league's stately building in downtown Philadelphia for the past two years.
Conservators will soon begin working to stabilize the lectern for the pontiff's speech. Further details were not immediately available.
Francis' appearance outside Independence Hall on Sept. 26 is expected to be a ticketed event. Exact arrangements have not been announced.
The pontiff's first stops on his U.S. visit will be in Washington and New York.
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