The Pope's Cup

Donated by Margaux Crooks

Many years ago, a friend of Margaux Crooks from Jindalee in Brisbane was given a very special tea cup and saucer. The tea cup itself was chosen by the then Archbishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyła (later Pope John Paul ll) for his morning tea when he visited the Darra Parish Catholic Church in 1973. The tea cup survived two Brisbane floods and is now installed on the Queensland Terrace at the State Library.

Digital transcript

My name is Margaux Crooks and I'm here to share some stories, some background about a very special cup that's been in my life on loan. Well it is quite a complicated story. In the '80s, I met an elderly frail Polish lady who lived in the Darra Community. There was quite a big population of Polish families, mainly because they were a short train ride away from Wolston Park and many of them had gained employment there.

So this lady did live alone and she was a little bit cautious about involving a stranger in her life but as I got to know her, I used to regularly go and have coffee with her, and I would always be sat down, quite formally, in this small cottage with a special cup, and like most women when you're drinking out of a nice cup, you immediately say "Well, what is the story behind this? It's a lovely cup". And she was calling it the Pope's cup, and I was quite surprised at her calling it that and asked her the story behind it.

In the 1970s, there was a visit to the Polish community, which was principally a Catholic community, by the then Archbishop of Krakow. He came principally to Australia to a convention in Melbourne but when he was in Brisbane he visited the Darra/Jindalee Catholic Church, which was newly established in those days, and all of the Polish ladies had been asked by the priest if they would put on morning tea for him. They were to bring their own special cup and saucer and that would be part of the layout for the morning tea. To her delight, he walked out along the row of cups and saucers and chose hers.

She had always treasured this because it was the Archbishop that had used it, but then of course he went on to become Pope Paul the second, so after duly listening to her story I said, "Now what is the future for your cup and saucer?" and she said, "That's what I'm really worried about. My family are really not interested in it". She was very upset about this and I was too because I appreciated how important it was to her. So after several visits she persuaded me that I would take the cup when she passed away and that I would keep it for safe keeping, and I took it home and it just sat there as things do in your crystal cabinet.

I completely forgot about it, but to my absolute delight it was found in amongst a whole lot of reclaimed and rescued pieces from the 2011 flood. When I discovered it and recognised what it was, I realised that really I had to find the right long term resting place for this cup. Somewhere where others would appreciate it and its intrinsic value and I'm really delighted to feel that it now finally might have a permanent place. But that's the Pope's cup!

What do you think that stain might be?
I think that there is a message there. Can you read coffee grounds?
I think it is trying to tell us something.
I think the message might be put it down before it breaks!

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