Thos. Moser provides chairs for Pope Francis visit to Philadelphia

We also designed and created a custom brace for the original lectern used by Abraham Lincoln when he delivered the Gettysburg Address and will be used by Pope Francis for his remarks at Independence Hall
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World Meeting of Families (WMOF) has organized Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia during his first trip to the United States in September, including a stop at Independence Hall on Saturday, September 26 where the Pope as well as four Cardinals will be seated in Thos. Moser Catena Arm Chairs with custom cushions. The Pope will also stand behind Abraham Lincolnís Gettysburg Address lectern, reinforced by bracing made at the Thos. Moser workshop, during his speech at the Hall. On Sunday, September 27, Pope Francis will say goodbye from a Harpswell Arm Chair with Back during his departure ceremony at the airport. Watch the story on Portland’s WCSH6 (and scroll down for more media coverage):

The Pope will arrive on September 22, after a stop in Cuba, and will begin his US tour at the White House before heading to New York and then Independence Hall in Philadelphia on September 26. The Catena Arm Chairs were chosen as seating for the Pope and Cardinals because they reflect the simplicity and colonial Windsor-style of the original chairs used at historic events at Independence Hall. The Catena Chair’s hand-shaped crest at each corner along with a heart on the seat created by Thos. Moser craftsmen resonate with WMOFís 2015 theme of “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” In addition, with comfortable seats and wider flat arms, the Catena Chairs, which are made from black cherry harvested from forests in Pennsylvania, reflect American heritage and sustainability, while the custom, removable white and blue cushions resemble the American flag.

Pope Francis will also give a speech at Independence Hall from the lectern used by Abraham Lincoln at the Gettysburg Address. Thos. Moserís President and Founder Tom Moser was asked in July to inspect this lectern, which resides in the Union League of Philadelphia, to ensure its stability and safety during the Popeís talk. Due to the original lectern’s frail and top-heavy design, Moser built a replica lectern to test a simple steel and cherry wood brace that will be used to stabilize the Lincoln lectern during the Pope’s speech. This brace will buttress the original Pennsylvania black walnut stand with little to no contact while providing a place for wiring, hands, and a glass of water.

Moser, a former college professor with a doctorate in rhetoric and public speaking, says the use of the Lincoln lectern during this historic event is “astounding,” especially since the podium was used for the Gettysburg Address, which he would argue was “the most important speech spoken on US soil.”

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Tom Moser measuring the original Lincoln lectern (left), Warren Shaw crafting the replica (center), The replica and stand (right)

Thos. Moser will also provide two Harpswell Arm Chairs with Back for the departure ceremony on September 27. One has the logo of World Meeting of Families on the back cushion which will be used by Pope Francis, and the other will be used by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput. The White House previously commissioned Harpswell Chairs for a ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict in 2008. The Pope and President Bush sat in the chairs, which are now on display at The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum where custom Thos. Moser benches, tables and desks are also installed. Additionally, all former presidents and first ladies sat in Harpswell Chairs during the libraryís grand opening in 2013.

“We’re honored to be asked to not only craft chairs for the Pope’s first visit to the US for both his speech at Independence Hall and his departure ceremony, but also to inspect Abraham Lincolnís lectern to ensure the Popeís safety during its use,” Moser said. “To be a small part of this historic occasion is a privilege for the entire Thos. Moser team.”

Custom Catena Chair (left), Larry Mosqueda applying the custom upholstery (center), Custom Harpswell Chair (right)
Custom Catena Chair (left), Larry Mosqueda applying the custom upholstery (center), Custom Harpswell Chair (right)

Thos. Moser craftsmen and women involved include Seth Chessie and Maddie Rado making the five Catena Chairs and custom cushion sets and Paul Mathieu and Larry Mosqueda crafting the Harpswell Chair frame/woodworking and upholstery. Tom Moser designed the Lincoln lectern brace, while Mike Morin constructed the bracingís metalwork and Warren Shaw and Christine Bedard constructed and finished the lectern replica, which is being used to test the function and stability of the Lincoln lectern bracing.

“The natural elegance that defines the furniture made by Thos. Moser is what drove our selection of the company to design and craft the Papal Chairs for Pope Francisí remarks at Independence Hall,” said WMOF Executive Director Donna Farrell. “In such an extraordinary setting, it was important that the chair selected for the Holy Father reflect the humility and simplicity by which he leads. We are delighted to have Thos. Moser contribute its legacy expertise to such a historic moment.” Expected to draw more than one million people from around the globe, portions of this WMOF interfaith event will be televised worldwide.

About World Meetings of Families Beginning with 1994, The Year of the Family, the Pontifical Council for the Family has been responsible for organizing the World Meetings of Families in Rome (1994); Rio de Janeiro (1997); Rome (2000); Manila (2003); Valencia (2006); Mexico City (2009); Milan (2012); and now, Philadelphia (2015). Since its inception by Saint John Paul II, the World Meeting of Families has sought to strengthen the sacred bonds of family across the globe.

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