Having greeted and blessed well-wishers after his address at the opening ceremony, Pope Saint John Paul II took a special train from Gatwick to celebrate Mass at Westminster Cathedral which focussed on the Baptismal Rite.
The Holy Father said during the homily: “Today, for the first time in history, a Bishop of Rome sets foot on English soil. I am deeply moved at this thought. This fair land, once a distant outpost of the pagan world, has become, through the preaching of the Gospel, a beloved and gifted portion of Christ’s vineyard.”
As the service ended the Pope made his way to the Cathedral’s West Door balcony to bless the cheering crowds outside. Margaret Le Foe lived adjacent to the Cathedral at the time and recalls of that night: “It was the most extraordinary feeling because everyone in Victoria was so happy. That night had been the most extraordinarily warm night and at about one o’clock in the morning I went onto my balcony and the whole piazza was crowded with people just milling about and talking to each other saying: ‘I’m not a Catholic but isn’t it lovely… oh he’s so gorgeous!’ And this sort of upsurge of lovely feelings for him was just fantastic.”
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