Pope Francis doesn’t have to worry about having a comfortable, stylish and well-made place to sit when he visits Philadelphia in September.

Auburn-based furniture maker Thos. Moser will provide its Catena armchairs for the pope and four cardinals during a stop at Independence Hall on Sept. 26. Before the pope leaves Philadelphia, he’ll say goodbye at the airport in a Harpswell armchair made by Thos. Moser. The company is also building a steel brace to cushion the lectern the pope will use when gives a talk there, the same lectern President Abraham Lincoln used to give the Gettysburg Address.

Thomas Moser, a former Bates College professor with a doctorate in public speaking, said Thursday he felt “honored” to be involved with Lincoln’s lectern and called the Gettysburg Address “arguably the most important speech ever given” in American history.

Moser also figures making seating for the pope could be good for him, spiritually.

“I’m a bit of a sinner, so I’m hoping this gets me some reduced time in purgatory,” Moser said.

Pope Francis is scheduled to give an outdoor talk at Independence Hall for a gathering of the Catholic-sponsored World Meeting of Families. Thousands are expected to turn out.

Moser and his son, Aaron, inspected the historic lectern, which is kept in a glass case and hasn’t been used in 150 years. Then Moser and several co-workers designed and built a steel and cherry wood brace that will support the old lectern and provide the pope something to stand and lean on. The brace will not be attached to the lectern and at no time will the pope be standing on or resting upon the lectern.

“It’s not what I’d call a robust piece, it’s pretty tippy and top-heavy,” Moser said of the lectern.

Moser, who started his company in 1972, is known for creating wooden furniture that reflects Shaker-related values of simplicity and grace. His pieces, sold around the world, are praised for their beauty, style and craftsmanship. Dozens of objects made by Moser are on view in an exhibit at the Institute of Contemporary Art at Maine College of Art in Portland, called “Thos. Moser: A Legacy in Wood.”

Organizers of the Philadelphia papal visit picked Moser’s Catena chairs partly because they are similar in style to the Windsor-style chairs that would have been used at Independence Hall in the 1700s.

On Sept. 27, Pope Francis is scheduled to say goodbye to Philadelphia from a Thos. Moser Harpswell armchair, during a departure ceremony at Philadelphia International Airport. Thos. Moser also provided Harpswell armchairs for Pope Benedict and President George W. Bush when Benedict visited the United States in 2008.

The chairs, and lectern support, are being made for the events and will be ready well before the pope’s visit, Moser said. Thos. Moser got this opportunity because its Philadelphia-area sales representative reached out to the organizers of the pope’s visit there.

Besides popes, Moser’s chairs have provided stylish seating for several presidents, including the five U.S. presidents who gathered in Texas in 2013 for the dedication of the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

The pope is scheduled to be in the United States beginning on Sept. 22, arriving in Washington, D.C. After visiting with President Obama and addressing a joint session of Congress, Pope Francis will be in New York City on Sept. 25 to address the United Nations General Assembly. Then he will spend Sept. 26-27 in Philadelphia before departing for Rome.

And when he leaves, after sitting twice in Thos. Moser chairs, he should be well rested.

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: RayRouthier


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