My birthplace, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is in the midst of papal frenzy. Pope Francis will visit the city of brotherly love on September 26-27, 2015. The city is excited, mostly, although many fear the expected crowds. But Philly Catholics are especially proud that the Pope chose the city as one of three stops on his first United States tour. For those of us that grew up Catholic in Philadelphia, we believe the history of our faith is intertwined with the history of our city. Now a new film will show that rich history – just in time for the Pope’s visit!

“Urban Trinity: The Story of Catholic Philadelphia” will be shown at the September 2015 World Meeting of Families. It will also air as three 25-minute segments on WPVI-TV Channel 6 (for those in the Philadelphia viewing area) and later be available for viewing online (see below).

To summarize 300 years of Catholic history in the city, the story is divided into three parts. Part 1 (airs September 22 at 7:00 pm) examines the earliest history – despite William Penn’s freedom of religion in his colony, most residents were outwardly hostile to Catholics. The first Catholic church in the city, Old St. Joseph’s, was founded in 1733. The episode will explore how the earliest parishes were built and touch on the anti-Catholic riots in the 1840s.

Part 2 (airs immediately following Part 1) focuses on the growth of the church in the city and the birth of many parishes as a result of European immigration. During this time, in addition to new churches, many schools and colleges were built and new religious orders arrived in the city to help.

Part 3 (airs on September 27 at midnight) begins in the early 20th century when the archdiocese was at its zenith to the present day’s declining numbers.

Although the documentary focuses on the city of Philadelphia, it follows the arc of the Catholic story and its history in the United States.

Full episodes will be available online on September 28 at http://www.historyofphilly.com/.  Find out more info about the film here. The documentary overall is a part of the larger-scale project, Philadelphia: The Great Experiment.