Everything is awesome about DIY Lego model of Vatican In this Friday, Sept. 11, 2015 photo, visitors view a Lego representation of the St. Peter’s basilica and square, at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months building it with approximately half-a-million Legos. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Everything is awesome about DIY Lego model of Vatican
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The science museum in Philadelphia was already hosting a blockbuster exhibit of Lego sculptures and preparing to unveil a huge display of Holy See treasures for the Pope's visit. That's when administrators got an unexpected inquiry.
 
Would they like to see a model of the Vatican that a priest built entirely of Legos?
 
"It's amazing," said Larry Dubinski. He is president and CEO of The Franklin Institute. It is where the plastic brick structure is on view in downtown Philadelphia. "People are in awe."
 
The Rev. Bob Simon spent about 10 months constructing a mini St. Peter's Basilica out of a half-million Legos. His architectural feat includes a Lego Pope on a balcony overlooking the crowd in St. Peter's Square. The square is made up of about 44,000 Lego pieces. They resemble cobblestones.
 
A colorful cast of Lego characters populates the piazza. There even is a nun with a selfie stick. And a bespectacled figurine of Simon. All told, the display measures 14 feet by 6 feet. It weighs about 100 pounds.
 
"It was daunting," said Simon. "It was an exercise in patience, and I was thrilled with the way everything came out."
 
Simon said he built his first, rather crude, Lego model of the Roman Catholic church's headquarters when he was in seventh grade. Today, he serves as pastor at St. Catherine of Siena church in Moscow, Pennsylvania. It is about 100 miles north of Philadelphia. He has been to the real Vatican five times.
 
To create the model, Simon used an image from a book cover as a guide. The hardest part was creating the round basilica dome from square bricks, he said. Although he looked for hints by watching YouTube videos, "I hardly understood what I was watching."
 
"I'm also not really great at math, so I was daunted by that as well," he said.
 
Yet he continued. Using Lego life preservers to imitate the dome's windows - one of many ways he repurposed various shapes - he delicately built the structure without glue.
 
Denise Brownell, visiting the museum, was duly impressed.
 
"It's just such a perfect replica of the real thing," said Brownell. "It's just awesome."
 
Simon started the project a year ago in an empty room in his rectory. He finished in time to bring it to BrickFair, a Lego convention held over the summer near Washington. There it received many compliments. A friend then suggested The Franklin Institute might be interested.
 
Simon's creation is being displayed alongside "The Art of the Brick," an exhibit of Lego sculptures, and "Vatican Splendors."  The latter includes art, vestments and religious relics from the Holy See.
 
There are no plans for the pope to see the Lego Vatican while he's in Philadelphia. But Simon hopes to see Francis. The priest will participate in the papal Mass on Sept. 27.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why was math part of the challenge in building the Lego model?
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COMMENTS (183)
  • sanchez,christina-cas
    9/23/2015 - 08:23 a.m.

    1. Simon admitted that he was not that great in math, which is essential to build.
    2. I think that the article is interesting because my brother likes to play with legos and create different objects with them, and to see someone create a replica of the Vatican amazes me. There are so many things that you could create if you put your mind to it, it is just up to you to get it done. I think he was very motivated and smart to go all out like that.

  • ahlinh-1-esc
    9/23/2015 - 10:12 a.m.

    Es muy asomdroso

  • jordanr-Orv
    9/23/2015 - 12:48 p.m.

    well that's impressive,I wonder if he had to work on it every day.

    • melissag-sch
      3/02/2016 - 02:13 p.m.

      3.) I agree i think that he work on it for weeks or months.

  • samanthas-1-ste
    9/23/2015 - 01:19 p.m.

    That is so cool! and now that the Pope is in the United States, people are way more interested in this.

  • emmah-bon
    9/23/2015 - 05:25 p.m.

    What I think is that building lego "sculptures" is a waste of people's time, but even though that is my opinion I really love that these men or women used there imagination to make something big.

  • emilyc-bon
    9/23/2015 - 05:30 p.m.

    I think this article is a very cool article. I would love to build something like that. If I were that person I would pretty much be famous. Well I can only dream that one day I will be as AMAZING as that person.

  • lucasd-3-bar
    9/23/2015 - 07:17 p.m.

    The math part was figuring out the sizes of things, the amount of legos to use, and what types. This was super cool. I hope they build a lego model of Disneyland. I didn't think there was so much math in lego building to!

  • williamb-4-bar
    9/23/2015 - 07:18 p.m.

    There is math in about everything you will construct when you build something. You will have to measure things and caculate how many layers there might have to be.

  • samuelh-3-bar
    9/23/2015 - 07:34 p.m.

    math was a challenge because it requires the amount of pieces and the size of the structure and the amount of detailing.The square is made up of about 44,000 Lego pieces. This next piece of evidence will also show the size and amount of pieces.the display measures 14 feet by 6 feet. It weighs about 100 pounds. I being a lego builder my self this project would have taken a long time for some of the pros to do.. My opinion is that this is amazing, I couldn't do this even if I had the amount of pieces required.It did not surprise me because in the "CULT OF LEGO" there are people who built sculptures two times this size.

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