Unique Wedgwood vase: Birmingham's Jubilee gift to Pope

 Pope John Paul II will be presented with a unique Wedgwood Jasper 40 vase, made in Stoke-on-Trent, to mark the 25th anniversary of his Pontificate this Thursday. The presentation will be made by the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham, and the Right Reverend Philip Pargeter, Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, during a special ceremony in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican during the next two weeks. The specially commissioned Wedgwood vase is a gift from the Archdiocese of Birmingham to mark the Silver Jubilee of Pope John Paul II, the Polish Pope who was elected on 16 October 1978. All the cardinals of the Catholic Church have been invited to Rome for four days of celebrations to mark this historic event. It is only the fourth time since Saint Peter that a Pope has celebrated a Silver Jubilee. The Wedgwood vase was handed over to Archbishop Nichols and Bishop Pargeter during a factory-floor ceremony at Wedgwood, Barlaston, on Tuesday 23 September. The vase, based on the historic 40 Shape - so called because the design featured as entry number 40 in the first Josiah Wedgwood's original 18th century First Shapes Book. The exquisite pale blue and white vase features in bas-relief the Papal Coat of Arms and an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary holding the infant Jesus. A certificate will accompany the vase, inscribed with the names of the seven Wedgwood Barlaston craftsmen and women who took more than six weeks to create the masterpiece. Archbishop Nichols and Bishop Pargeter showed the vase to the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Councillor, John Alden, and the Lady Mayoress, Councillor Deirdre Alden, during a special visit to the Lord Mayor's Parlour last Friday. The Lord Mayor gave Archbishop Nichols a letter of greetings to Pope John Paul II on behalf of the citizens of Birmingham. The Lord Mayor writes: "It is a privilege to be able to send you greetings on behalf of the Citizens of Birmingham on this wonderful celebration of your Silver Jubilee. It is a magnificent achievement and I trust you have fond memories of the people you have met, the places you have visited and all that you have achieved. "The position you hold is most illustrious and over the years you have carried that responsibility out with care, compassion and dignity." The Archbishop promised that he would give the letter to the Pope together with the vase.

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