In 1925, the Vatican was conducting a Mission Exposition in Rome, highlighting the historic and contemporary efforts of the Christian churches to evangelize in various areas.
The Columban Fathers by 1925 had been working in China for about five years, and wished to send a representative to the Exposition to highlight their achievements in China. Father Richard Ranaghan was a member of the first group of Columbans to go to China in 1920 and had gained a great deal of experience in photography and filmmaking there.
He was the perfect candidate to direct the construction of the Columban exhibit, and traveled to Rome in 1925, along with Columban Father Joseph P. O’Leary.
The two Columbans constructed a Columban booth, which they set up in the form and adornments of a Chinese home. The exhibition also showed aspects of Chinese tradition and literature, as well as the Columban work there.
Pope Pius XI was strolling through the exhibits at the Exposition, and stopped to congratulate the Columbans on their booth. The Columban exhibit won a diploma of merit and a medal from the pontiff.
The Columban exhibit at the 1925 Mission Exposition was a public relations triumph for the Columbans, and the Vatican started to take more notice of their work in China.