The Scoop on Obama's Gift to Pope Tomorrow
By William Wan
What do you get for a man whose possessions include leadership over one-sixth of the world's population not to mention the Church's highest earthly authority?
When President Obama's staff went searching for the perfect gift for Pope Benedict XVI, they called Louis DiCocco, owner of a religious gift shop in Philadelphia, for advice.
"Someone there remembered us from the Pope's last visit," DiCocco said in a phone interview from his shop today. He and his shop had design and built one of the chairs used by the pope during his meeting with U.S. bishops in Washington last year.
For five days, DiCocco and the state department officials went back and forth, trying to strike the right balance of history, significance and sentiment. A lot was at stake. Not just American-Vatican relations (the perfect gift just might be the thing to spark a warm discussion), but also in the balance was Obama's reputation as a decent gift giver (re: critics' howls when Obama gave Queen Elizabeth that iPod).
At first, DiCocco suggested an antique chalice his family had in their shop that could be traced back to the 1920s, a parish priest style gold-plated cup with a highly engraved base. Written around the mouth of the chalice were the words, "Sanctus, Sanctus, Santus," meaning "holy, holy, holy."
But the cup had history and character but they kept looking.
Posted at 3:27 PM ET on Jul 9, 2009
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