A tangible reminder of the Pope’s visit to Iowa will be open to the public Friday afternoon. The Church of the Land at Living History Farms in Urbandale sits on the small rise where Pope John Paul the second spoke on that October day back in 1979. The church was dedicated a few years later, in 1985. It has a stained glass window that bears the same design as the quilt which hung behind the Pope while he said mass to an estimated 350-thousand people. The design has the shape of a cross, with colors in each of the four quadrants symbolizing the seasons and the contours of the Iowa landscape. Steve Davis of Living History Farms says the Church of the Land is not a Catholic church but is open to all faiths because that’s how the Pope began his mass in Iowa. “It was an ecumenical service at the beginning. There were lots of Catholics and non-Catholics,” Davis says. “As a matter of fact, someone had large signs that said ‘Lutherans Love John Paul, too’ so the church is non-denominational and is really dedicated to farmers, hence the name ‘Church of the Land.'” The church will be open to the public from noon to four Friday afternoon. “People can come in and reflect in any way they feel appropriate,” Davis says. Iowa Public Television condensed seven hours worth of coverage of the Pope’s visit to a one-hour video, and that will be playing in the Living History Farms visitor’s center. If you’d like to find out more on-line, go to www.livinghistoryfarms.org. If you surf around, you’ll even find the text version of the homily or sermon that the Pope delivered in Iowa back in 1979. There is no religious service scheduled at the Church of the Land on Friday, but a 10 o’clock mass will be held at the Catholic church near Cumming where the Pope led a brief prayer service back on October 4, 1979.
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