Catholic and Jewish leaders are promoting the new exhibit.
CINCINNATI (AP) -- Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders are working together on a major new exhibit that will open this spring to highlight Pope John Paul II and his long relationship with Jews.
The exhibit titled "A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People" will include photographs, documents and prayer books.
Interest in the pope has escalated since his recent illness and hospitalization in Rome.
The exhibit will open May 18, the pope's 85th birthday, on the campus of Xavier University. The Jesuit school in Cincinnati is a financial sponsor of the exhibit, along with the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati.
The exhibit will be at Xavier until July 15 and then move to the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in the nation's capital. From there, it will tour Roman Catholic and Jewish universities and other venues in the United States before traveling to Europe and becoming a permanent display in Israel.
Exhibit includes prayer book
In March 2000, John Paul became the first pope in 36 years to visit Jerusalem. He toured Christendom's sacred sites, visited Judaism's holiest place, the Western Wall, and paid respect at the Holocaust Memorial.
He has written extensively about the spiritual bonds between Catholics and Jews.
Jerzy Kluger, a Jew who has been a friend since the pope's youth in Poland, has loaned his childhood prayer book to the exhibit.
Also included will be transcripts of the pope's progress from elementary school to college, a robe he wore for an interreligious prayer service in Assisi, Italy, and a biretta, or ceremonial hat, he received when he was elevated to cardinal in 1967.
Papers promote program
There will be artifacts from Jewish businesses of the 1920s and 1930s in the pope's hometown of Wadowice, Poland, home to 8,000 people including 2,000 Jews.
The Catholic Telegraph, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and The American Israelite, a Cincinnati-based Jewish newspaper, both published stories in their weekly editions Thursday to promote the upcoming exhibit.
Officials at Xavier, the Hillel Jewish Student Center of Cincinnati and Yaffa Eliach, a former visiting professor at Xavier who later founded the Shtetl Foundation in New York, originated the concept for the exhibit. They met with the pope in Rome last October to outline the proposal and receive his support.
"Our trip to Rome was enormously successful," said William Madges, chairman of Xavier's theology department. "We were well received by all we met."
Eliach, a Holocaust survivor and retired professor of Judaic studies at Brooklyn College, said she had become fascinated with the pope's close ties with Jews during his life and believed the story needed to be told.