Vatican Pavilion Hostess Scrapbook

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Cover of the Vatican Pavilion Hostess Scrapbook

One of the most interesting items in our 1964/65 World’s Fair Collection is a scrapbook that was compiled by Vatican Pavilion Hostess Director Marie McCormick.

The hostesses conducted an average of 50,000 visitors a day through the Vatican Pavilion, specifically acting as tour guides for the many works of Catholic art housed in the Pavilion.  The most famous work at the Pavilion was Michelangelo’s Pieta, which was shipped by boat from the Vatican, but the Pavilion also contained a replica of the Tomb of St. Peter and an illumination of the Sistine Chapel ceiling.  In addition to the day-to-day crowds, the hostesses also conducted more famous visitors, including President Harry Truman, through the Pavilion.

The hostesses were a very diverse group: four were born overseas, in Germany, France, Mexico, and Italy.  They could speak six languages in addition to English: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, and Yiddish.  They all wore a matching uniform of a red wool dress with matching cloak with a gold medallion, a pillbox hat, black shoes, and white gloves.

Hostess Director Marie McCormick with Cardinal Francis Spellman

The scrapbook offers a unique behind-the-scenes look into this interesting piece of history.  It contains a combination of published news clippings about the Pavilion and the hostess program, professional photographs, mementos, and personal photographs, along with hand-written annotations.  The scrapbook also contains a number of items from the visit of Pope Paul VI to the Vatican Pavilion in 1965.

For further information on our 1964/65 World’s Fair Collection, please view the finding aid here.

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