I was working up an article on Expo 2010 (World’s Fair) a few weeks ago when – by accident – I came across (and then purchased) this vintage postcard showing the Vatican City pavilion from the 1964/65 New York City World’s Fair.
And the back side (click to enlarge for text).
No surprise, despite signs – once again! – of warming Sino-Vatican relations, Vatican City won’t be exhibiting in Shanghai. And frankly, that’s a pity. After all, in 1964, they not only had a pavilion, they had Michelangelo’s friggin’ Pieta exhibited inside of the pavilion (fyi: no longer impressed that the Danes have lent the Little Mermaid to Expo 2010). So, unlike Expo 2010′s tacky exhibits, promotional films, and endless rounds of 4-D programming (wind! rain! in your face!), that’s something (an artistic masterpiece of the very first order) that might’ve been worth waiting in line for three hours to see.
Which begs the question: just how often has the Holy See shown up for an Expo?
In fact, it takes only a brief search to learn that 64/65 wasn’t the only instance of Vatican participation at an Expo. So far as I’ve been able to determine, the Vatican also showed up for Expo 67 in Montreal, Expo 88 in South Brisbane (!), Expo 2000 in Hannover, Germany (complete with the Shroud of Turin – the Vatican sure knows its crowd pleasers! photos here), and Expo 2008 in Zaragoza Spain (info here, Papal letter thanking donors and volunteers, here). On the flip side, they were most definitely not present at Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan (proof, here). So what conclusions can be drawn from this? Pretty much none. I’ve got a call into the Vatican Press Office to see if they were invited to Expo 2010 – though I’m not holding my breath for an answer (and no, I’m not contacting the Shanghai Expo Bureau). The fact that they weren’t at Expo 2005 tells me that they probably prefer to attend European and North American expos (and Australian Expos). Then again, it’s hard to imagine that they would’ve passed up the diplomatic and evangelical opportunity presented by the Shanghai Expo. That is all.