Catholic priest spends year building Lego Vatican - but Pope Francis won't get to see it

The Pope is visiting Philadelphia but a visit to see the model is not on his schedule

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The Independent Online

A moment of reflection, please, for the labours of Father Bob Simon, a Catholic priest who spent the best part of a year building a Lego version of the Vatican.

Ten months of hard work and half-a-million Lego blocks went into the construction of the replica of St Peter's Basilica. The model has now gone on display the Franklin Institute, a science museum in Philadelphia.

But while everyone agrees Mr Simon’s creation is a thing of wonder, one rather important visitor to the so-called City of Brotherly Love will not get to see it - Pope Francis.


Mr Simon’s model is being displayed alongside an exhibition at the museum featuring works of art, vestments and religious relics from the Holy See. But there is no plan for the pope to visit when he spends two days in Philadelphia next week.

“It's amazing,” Larry Dubinski, the president of The Franklin Institute, said of the model. He told the Associated Press: “People are in awe.”

Mr Simon’s model includes a Lego pope on a balcony overlooking the crowd in St Peter's Square, which itself is made up of about 44,000 Lego pieces that look like cobblestones.


Pope Francis will hold a papal mass in Philadelphia


A cast of Lego characters populates the piazza, including a nun with a selfie stick and a bespectacled figurine of Simon. All told, the display measures 14 feet by 6 feet and weighs about 100 pounds.

“It was daunting,” said Mr Simon, who has visited the Vatican five times. “It was an exercise in patience, and I was thrilled with the way everything came out.”

Although Pope Francis’ schedule does not include a visit to the museum, Mr Simon is managing any disappointment; he plans to take part in a Papal mass being held on September 27.