Papal Visit of Pope John Paul II 1979
Over the course of ten days in October 1979, Pope John Paul II visited 6 cities in the United States. He spent two of those days in the City of Philadelphia. Arriving at Philadelphia International Airport at three in the afternoon on October 3rd, 1979, Pope John Paul II was greeted by John Cardinal Krol and Mayor Frank Rizzo. Also, in attendance was a 2,000 elementary student choir, as well as, 750 high school students.
Saturday in the Parkway
After a short welcome ceremony at the Cathedral, the pope walked the short distance to Logan Circle to celebrate Mass. His Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway was the largest religious gathering in the history of the city with over one million people in attendance. The altar was built at Logan Circle providing a 360-degree view of the Mass. The structure itself took 17 days to build and cost the city $150,000.
Sunday Shrines and Speeches
After a short visit to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Pope John Paull II spent the night down the street at the Cardinal’s residence. While the next day had no event to rival the Mass on the Parkway, it was still a busy day for the pope. First was an early morning visit to pray before the body of St. John Neumann at St. Peter the Apostle Church, followed by a speech at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. There, he praised the faith and devotion of the Eastern Catholic Churches especially in the face of communism.
Mass and Departure
Rounding out the morning, was a Mass for Clergy and Religious at the Civic Center, where Pope John Paul II stated that the Eucharist “shows itself to be the source and the sum of all evangelization. ” Afterwards, he returned to the airport to fly to his next stop Des Moines, Iowa. Seeing him off were city and archdiocese officials, as well as, students from Little Flower Catholic High School for Girls.