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August 3, 2015

World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia 2015 and Archdiocese
of Philadelphia Announce University of Notre Dame Student as
Winner of Papal Sanctuary Design Contest

Philadelphia, PA (July 30, 2015) - The World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia 2015 and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia today announced James Lenahan, a recent graduate from the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture, as the winner of a Papal Sanctuary Design Contest. This competition challenged college architecture students across the country to design the sanctuary area and furniture for the Papal Mass taking place on Sunday, September 27 which will conclude the Eighth World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, PA. The winning design will serve as an inspiration for the final Papal sanctuary, altar, ambo, and furniture that will be utilized during September's event.

Incorporating triangular elements to bring to mind the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Lenahan's unique design was carefully selected from numerous submissions in architecture programs across America. Each program was invited to submit a sanctuary design reflecting the liturgical principles for the arrangement of furniture for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Participants were instructed to use The General Instruction of the Roman Missal, Chapter V, as well as Built of Living Stone: Art, Architecture and Worship, published by the United States Bishops in 2000, as a guide for the design request.

"Every sanctuary design we received reflected beauty and creativity," said Auxiliary Bishop John J. McIntyre of Philadelphia. "But it was James Lenahan's classical design that caught our attention. We are so grateful to James for dedicating his time and talent to this design as it will now serve the sacred Liturgy which Pope Francis will preside during his historic visit to Philadelphia."

Being held September 22-25, 2015 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, the World Meeting of Families Congress expected 10,000 to 15,000 delegates from more than 150 nations but has already registered more than 12,000 people with two months to go. Pope Francis will participate in the closing events of the Eighth World Meeting of Families, which includes the Festival of Families, an intercultural celebration of family life around the world, which will be held on Saturday, September 26, and a Papal Mass to be held on Sunday, September 27, in which James Lenahan's design will be brought to life. Both of these events will take place on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in the heart of Philadelphia and will be open to the public.

"It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to provide inspiration for the sanctuary that His Holiness will stand upon to deliver mass," said James Lenahan. "Through my design, I hope to evoke solidarity and create an atmosphere for community prayer and worship. It is a tremendous privilege to contribute to this once-in-a-lifetime event and I am grateful for this opportunity."

Samantha Salden, assistant dean in Notre Dame's architecture school, said, "It only makes sense that an institution, and global community, that values tradition as living and vibrant today would select a design rooted in the living language of traditional architecture," she said. "We hope that Jim's dignified design for the sanctuary area for the papal Mass will add to the power and meaning of the occasion and that it will contribute to the revival of decorous civic and sacred architecture which, through its physical durability and universally meaningful forms, express both a community's shared history and optimism for the future."

Co-sponsored by the Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the World Meeting of Families is a triennial global event that seeks to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe and highlight its intrinsic value to the good of society. This international gathering will welcome Pope Francis to the United States for the first time in his Papacy. Being held in the United States for the first time ever, the official theme for the 2015 World Meeting of Families is "Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive."

For more information regarding the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, visit For more information regarding The Holy See's Pontifical Council for the Family, which co-sponsors the World Meeting of Families, visit You can also engage the World Meeting of Families - Philadelphia on Facebook (World Meeting of Families 2015) (Encuentro Mundial de las Familias - Filadelfia 2015), Twitter (@WMF2015) (@WMF2015ES) and Instagram (WMF2015).

About World Meetings of Families
Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015). Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe.


Kenneth A. Gavin
Director of Communications

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