Priest’s Elaborately Designed Lego Vatican On Display In Philadelphia Ahead of Pope Francis’ Visit

An elaborate Lego Vatican is now on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, ahead of the much-anticipated visit of Pope Francis next week.

Designed by Bob Simon, a pastor at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Moscow, Pennsylvania, the replica was made with more than 500,000 lego pieces.

Simon told USA Today that he’d wanted to build a Lego Vatican model since the seventh grade, but his previous attempts hadn’t looked “anything like the real thing.”

Simon says he began gathering blocks about two years before he started the construction process. With anticipation growing over Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to Philadelphia, Simon began his masterpiece in September 2014 and took 10 months to complete his Lego marvel.

According to Mashable, the piece showcases St. Peter’s Basilica and the surrounding St. Peter’s Square. Included are tiny townspeople, iPhone-carrying nuns, and a Lego Elvis Presley. Needless to say there is also a tiny pope waving at the crowd from the basilica.

“I wanted to show a lot of diversity. St. Peters Square is one of those places where people from all over the world come together.”

The display coincides with other pieces at the Franklin Institute’s Vatican Splendors exhibition, which runs through February and showcases 2,000 years of Vatican history with more than 200 works of art and historically significant objects. Together, the pieces form a great mosaic of the history of the Church and its impact on art, history and culture.

Simon said the creative process in constructing the Lego Vatican was a spiritual experience, much like the repetitive motion of praying the rosary.

“While your hands are busy, your heart and mind are elsewhere. It frees up the mind.”

The Vatican replica and other Lego creations have brought “record crowds” this summer, according to Larry Dubinski, president & CEO of The Franklin Institute.

[Image via Twitter/Philly Mag]