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Ceremonial Farewell To Papal Weekend Surprise: The Knotted Grotto

By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - One of the hits of the Pope's visit to Philadelphia was an art project at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on Logan Circle called the "Knotted Grotto" where people could write down a prayer and leave it knotted to others.

But the project was always intended to be temporary and its creators Wednesday held a ceremonial closing.

Prayers were offered by a priest, a rabbi and an imam to honor the estimated 150,000 appeals left at the site during the month of September.



It was the brain child of Project Home founder Sister Mary Scullion, who learned the painting Mary, Undoer of Knots was a favorite of Pope Francis.

"Little did we anticipate the response this grotto would have," she says.

Its mystique grew after the Pope made a surprise visit. Cathedral pastor Dennis Gill was clearly sad to see it go:

"It has been a special blessing for the Cathedral parish and, in some way, I wish the grotto could stay here."


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Father Gill at the ceremony. (Credit: Pat Loeb)


But plans are to move the structure to new supportive housing at 8th and Arch at the end of October, and recycle the fabric strips -- prayers and all -- as insulation for a future housing project.

Scullion also announced the Francis Fund started in honor of the Pope's visit raised $1.4-million, which will be put into direct services for those in need.

"I believe that Pope Francis will be pleased with this amazing legacy," she says.

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