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Westchester Makes Presence Felt As Pope Francis Wraps Up U.S. Visit

Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who owns a residence in North Salem, meets Pope Francis at the 9/11 Memorial on Friday. Photo Credit: Twitter @MikeBloomberg
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, seated at lower left, during a Mass led by Pope Francis at Madison Square Garden on Friday night. Photo Credit: MSNBC screen grab

This story has been updated.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Pope Francis wrapped up his visit to the United States in Philadelphia, where a cross made in Port Chester served as a backdrop during Sunday's concluding Mass.

“It’s composite gold leaf, which isn’t a precious metal,” craftsman Larry Hoy told Hoy spent about 80 hours building the 10-foot-by-8-foot cross, which features a carving of Christ’s crucifixion.

Several other important physical ties to the Pope's visit were handcrafted in Westchester County: The chair, pulpit, altar and altar linens for Francis' Madison Square Garden Mass were made locally -- by immigrant laborers from Port Chester and Yonkers and teenage boys from Lincoln Hall in Somers.

Rye’s Alfred F. Kelly Jr., former president of American Express and the host of Super Bowl XLVIII, served as chairman of the Papal visit, working pro bono for the Archdiocese of New York, according to The Rye Record.

“Cardinal (Timothy) Dolan is a friend, who confided that the Holy Father was definitely coming to New York in the fall. When he asked me to run the entire trip, I said yes. I couldn’t say no to the Cardinal,” Kelly told the Rye newspaper, which reported that Kelly and a small staff handled logistics, ticketing, merchandising and coordinating security plans from the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and nuns from the Mariandale Convent in Ossining were among those attending Saturday's Mass at Madison Square Garden, and Vespers at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Pope Francis also made a visit to the 9/11 Memorial where terrorists flew airliners into the World Trade Towers in 2001.

In Philadelphia on Saturday, Pope Francis led a closed morning Mass at Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, a historic church that has stood since 1864. The Holy Father then proceeded to Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary to meet with bishops at a chapel. 

The Pope gave a late afternoon speech Saturday on religious freedom and immigration at Independence National Historical Park in Center City Philadelphia. That was to be followed by an evening appearance at the Festival of Families on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

On Sunday, Pope Francis held a morning meeting with bishops, also at the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. He then visited prisoners in North Philadelphia. 

At 4 p.m.: on Sunday, the Pope led a concluding Mass for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in front of the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. Hoy's cross was behind the altar, serving as a backdrop for Pope Francis. The crucifix was visually framed by the museum steps made famous by the movie "Rocky," according to several media reports.

Pope Francis departed for Rome on Sunday evening.

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