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Priest builds Lego replica of the Vatican

PHILADELPHIA -- A Lego replica of the Vatican is now on display at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia just in time for Pope Francis' Philly visit, reports CBS Philly and CBS Radio affiliate KYW.

The Vatican replica was built by Father Bob Simon. The replica was a segue between the Franklin Institute's Art of the Brick exhibit and their Vatican Splendors exhibit. The museum is now proudly displaying the priest's work.

Father Simon's is not a newcomer to Legos. He said he fell in love with Legos as a little boy, and even attempted to build the Vatican out of them in 7th grade. It ended up being pretty simple back then he says, but there is no doubt this most recent work is not simple.

"I think there's about half a million pieces in it," Father Simon explained. "I'm not sure. I think there are about 44,000 cobblestones of the square, 6,000 round bricks that make up the colonnade and under the little cobblestones, there's 12,000 2×2 tiles that are under there. I knew if I was going to build the Vatican, it had to be big!"

"There was one photo in particular, it was a cover, a book jacket of a book I had that had a great picture of the facade," he said. "I used that for doing the facade and I used Google Earth, as well."

A few years ago, Father Simon attended an adult Lego convention. He tells KYW that's when the idea was sparked once again.

Father Simon said it's a dream to have his work displayed in Philadelphia during the visit of Pope Francis.

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