By Leah Greggo
Stepping into the Interfaith Reflection Room at the Pittsburgh International Airport is like leaving the busy airport behind entirely. The large and quiet space is located on the mezzanine level of the airside terminal, next to some bathrooms and a private lounge. On the inside of the room are a few dozen plastic chairs facing two pulpits and a removable wooden crucifix on the front wall. The room is clean and bright. One wall is painted red with a long window at the top and a few multicolored stained glass squares in the corner that let in lots of light.
In that corner just beyond the pulpits is a small area designated specifically for Muslims to use for their daily prayers. The carpet becomes a lighter gray in this area to mark the spot. A sign on the wall is there to remind other guests that they should not wear shoes in this designated prayer area. Against the red wall there is a shelf with several prayer mats for any Muslim travelers to use and next to the mats are several piles of various religious texts. There are several copies of the Bible, including a Book of Mormon and a book of hymns. There is also a copy of the Qu ‘Aran (Islamic prayer book) and a Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). Most interestingly, are the less common books like the Zohar, a book of Jewish mystical thought known as Kabbalah, and several texts about Islam written in Spanish.
The room was opened in 1992 as a chapel. Until 2009 there was a full time chaplain at the airport who lead mass six days a week. The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh placed him there after the tragic crash of USAir Flight 427. The flight crashed in Beaver County, killing all 132 people who were on board.
Today, the Interfaith Reflection Room can be used by anyone looking for a calm and private place to pray, meditate or just reflect away from the hectic atmosphere of the airport. The space feels very comforting. The Muslim prayer area, as well as many different religious texts that are available makes it feel like some thought went into making the space as welcoming as possible for many different kinds of people. The Interfaith Reflection Room at the Pittsburgh International airport makes for a good example of the diversity of religious expression in Pittsburgh. It is also a reminder that a sacred space can be created even in a place as unlikely as an airport.
“Inside of the Interfaith Reflection Room” Leah Greggo. The Interfaith Reflection Room from the inside.
Cadge, Wendy. A Brief History of Airport Chapels. 9 January 2018, www.smithsonianmag.com/travel/airport-chapels-brief-history-180967765/.
Puppo, Gina. “Airport Chapel Provides Sanctuary.” TribLive , 23 November 2006, archive.triblive.com/news/airport-chapel-provides-sanctuary/.
Walls, Alyson, and Bob Kerlik . “Offering a Ray of Light on a Dark Week.” Blue Sky PIT News Site, 5 November 2019, blueskypit.com/2018/11/02/offering-a-ray-of-light-on-a-dark-week/.
How to Cite
MLA: Greggo, Leah. “Pittsburgh International Airport Interfaith Reflection Room.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, 14 Jan. 2021, religyinz.pitt.edu/pittsburgh-international-airport-interfaith-reflection-room/.
APA: Greggo, Leah. (2021, January 14). Pittsburgh international airport interfaith reflection room. ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/pittsburgh-international-airport-interfaith-reflection-room/.
Chicago: Greggo, Leah. “Pittsburgh International Airport Interfaith Reflection Room.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, 14 January 2021. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/pittsburgh-international-airport-interfaith-reflection-room/.