"Prolegomenon To Any Future Visit Of A Pope To America" is the second chapter of Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies.


The chapter serves as a prolegomenon, or introduction[1], to a seemingly otherwise unpublished work that reflects on the 1965 visit of Pope Paul VI to New York and speculates on things one could do to improve and promote subsequent papal visits. Much of the chapter is composed as a spontaneous stream-of-consciousness ramble as if the advertising executive is brainstorming either alone or in the company of others most likely on Madison Avenue.

The "notes" indicate a need for better public relations since on the first visit “[the pope] acted like something you'd carry through the streets in an Italian village festival.  Uncooked pizza has more expression” [29].

For the record, it is doubtful these “notes” were put to use for popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, or Francis’ visits to the United States.


Paul VIand LBJ

The Pope and the President: Paul VI, the first sitting pontiff, to visit the United States, meets President Johnson.

The content that became this chapter was motivated by an event that took place four months after the story of Saint Fidgeta first appeared in The Critic. In September the Vatican announced that Pope Paul VI would come to New York City on Monday, October 4, 1965 for a 14-hour visit. This was big news and not just to Catholics: this would be the first papal visit to the Western Hemisphere and Catholics across New York State were ecstatic. Paul VI was already known for his travels (the year before he had made a pilgrimage to both the Holy Land and to India) and would go on to become the first pope to visit six continents making him the most traveled pope in history up to that point, thereby earning him the nickname the “Pilgrim Pope.”

Prolegomenon To Any Future Visit Of A Pope To America (2016 emblem)

Icon celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the second chapter of Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies (2016, Bellairsia).

Paul VI’s American itinerary was carefully planned after landing at New York’s Kennedy Airport. United States President Lyndon B. Johnson wished to meet the Pope but the pontiff was a chief of a state not officially recognized by the U.S. The solution: Johnson flew to New York for dinner at the apartment of his friend Arthur Goldberg, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and the pontiff was welcomed to Johnson's suite at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel the next day. Their 46-minute talk included discussions of peace, civil rights, education, and poverty.
Paul VI button

Sermon on the Mound: a souvenir from Paul VI's visit to New York City.

The pontiff went on to address crowds at Saint Patrick's Cathedral and then the highlight of the tour, a speech to the United Nations, followed by visits to the World’s Fair, Harlem, and Mass at Yankee Stadium (colloquially dubbed the “Sermon on the Mound”).

The New York City area landmarks noted in the text take the Pope through three of New York City's five boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.  Paul VI also spoke at the 1964 New York World's Fair, whose Vatican pavilion showcased Michelangelo's Pietà, on display from Rome.


A number of strange words appear throughout the text: humpf, znerb, and tweb (27) and tiddly-pom (28), as well as the nonsense phrases, Tickey-boo and Tyler too (28) and tumpty-um-tum (29), the former a riff on the popular and influential campaign song and slogan of the 1840 presidential election, Tippecanoe and Tyler Too[2]. These spontaneous made-up words were a sort of one-man brainstorming session and, says Bowen, "are the verbal equivalent of doodling. But since little pictures wouldn't work, John throws in a lot of meaningless verbalization to create the effect of someone waiting 'with his mind in neutral' (as the expression is) for the next bright idea to arrive out of the ether.  Phil Gibson (of the Notre Dame College Bowl team), whose humor had a weird streak, invented several silly words, one of which was 'tweb.' I don't recall that he invented any meanings for them, just the words, but I'm sure that John was remembering this one.[3]"

Adds Myers: "John didn't need any outside sources in the creation process: he loved to make silly names just for the sound of them.[4]"


  1. Wikipedia: Prolegomenon
  2. Wikipedia: Tippecanoe and Tyler Too
  3. Correspondence with Charles Bowen.
  4. Correspondence with Alfred Myers.
Saint Fidgeta and Other Parodies


2. Prolegomenon To Any Future Visit Of A Pope To America

Paul VILyndon B. Johnson
Paul ClaudelThomas MertonMonks' BreadJacques Maritain

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