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St. Louis Prepares to Welcome the Pope

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ST LOUIS — The Cardinals are not even playing, but that is not stopping the Pope. He is headed to St. Louis for a visit with President Clinton and St. Louis is ready.

Late Monday morning, workers put the finishing touches on a bullet-proof, portable pulpit.

The man who has served as Pope since 1978 will be in the middle of middle America.

The Gateway Arch is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world. It is more than 600 feet from top to bottom.

It has been described as one of the best examples of St. Louis' love for dramatic architecture. One of the best, but not the only example, because not too far from the arch is what some people say is more dramatic.

It is the Great Cathedral of St. Louis, also known as the Basilica. Pope John Paul II will not be the first Pope to preach the Gospel inside the great sanctuary.

Long before Bill Gates revised our ideas of windows, stained-glass windows in the Basilica were created to illuminate the interiors of the massive church.

Roman Catholic leaders are convinced that the Pope will do the same to the hearts of the people in St. Louis.

"It's very exciting any time the Pope goes anywhere. He is a shepherd of one billion Catholics in the world, including 61 million in the United States. It is always an event, and everybody is interested in what his message is going to be," said Frank Morock of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh.

While the walls glisten with millions of mosaic tiles, the Pope will be preaching.

The voice of the 78-year-old man may again ring with controversy. He is not shy about sharing his conservative views with people steeped in Western culture.

This trip should be no different.

"He is talking about justice issues. That is something at the core of Christianity. I expect him to say things that some people might not be very happy to hear, but true Christians, I think, will applaud what he says," said Morock.

The Pope will arrive in St. Louis about 1 p.m. He will be greeted by the President, and spend a full 30 hours or so in the city.

There are more than 600,000 Roman Catholics in this diocese. He should have a very good crowd.

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David Crabtree, Reporter
Keith Baker, Photographer
John Clark, Web Editor

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