The Gift of Finest Wheat: The Story of the 41st International Eucharistic Congress

This exhibit looks at the history and planning of how Philadelphia was chosen to host the 41st International Eucharistic Congress and details of the week-long event that happened.  It covers different Masses, highlights some of the famous people who came, like Mother Teresa, Karol Wojtyła before he was pope, Dorothy Day, and Princess Grace of Monaco.

The exhibit will display sacred objects – ciboria, chalices, and vestments used at the Masses – letters, photographs, and artwork used during the IEC.  The collection illustrates the impact the IEC had on the City of Philadelphia and the Catholic Church.

The 41st IEC brought Catholics together from around the world to celebrate and discuss a theme connected to the Eucharist.  The theme of the 41st IEC was “The Eucharist and the Hungers of the Human Family” with the goal of examining both physical and spiritual hunger.

The history of the Eucharistic Congress dates to 1881, when a one-day congress was held in Lille, France and attended by more than 800 people. The 1979 event in Philadelphia would last for a week and be attended by over 1.5 million people, including 44 Cardinals and 417 bishops from around the world.

The exhibit is a way to highlight that Eucharistic Congresses have been a mainstay in Catholic life, and how the past resonates with today.

Catholic Historical Research Center | 6719 Calvert Street | Philadelphia, PA 19149