John Paul II

In the summer of 1982, Pope Saint John Paul II travelled to Great Britain for an historic six-day tour that saw him greet and bless hundreds of thousands of people at sixteen different venues.

It was the first time that a pope had visited these lands in over 400 years, since before the Reformation, making his kissing of the ground on arrival at Gatwick airport on the 28 May a moving start to the occasion.

The first stop was Westminster Cathedral and from there he travelled to meet the Queen at Buckingham Palace, the sick at Southwark Cathedral, religious at Roehampton, Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Robert Runcie in Canterbury Cathedral, representatives from the Polish Community at Crystal Palace and thousands of young people at National Youth Rally in Cardiff, to mention just some of the highlights.

A day-and-a-half of his visit was spent north of the border in Scotland. The Holy Father began in Edinburgh greeted by thousands of young people at Murrayfield. This was followed by his attendance at a gathering for priests and religious. On 1st June he was met by Christian leaders, he then visited Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Rosewell, addressed the Bishops’ Conference in Edinburgh, before travelling to Glasgow to meet students at St Andrew’s College, finishing with an open air Mass at Bellahouston Park.

Gatwick Airport

Pope Saint John Paul II, was greeted by Cardinal Basil Hume and the then Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, shortly after his plane landed at London Gatwick Airport. In kneeling to kiss the British soil his thirteenth Pastoral Visit began.


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.


Following lunch at Buckingham Palace, Pope Saint John Paul made his way to St George’s Cathedral, Southwark. He was met by the waiting sick and led a service of anointing, spending considerable time speaking to those who had gathered.


Ecumenical relations formed a key part of the first Papal trip to Britain for more than 400 years - since before the Reformation.

Wembley Stadium

Wembley Stadium provided the setting for the first open-air Mass of Pope John Paul II's visit to Britain. The stadium, which has since been redeveloped, was the venue for England's 1966 World Cup football triumph.

Crystal Palace

Undeterred by the early start, 24,000 members of the Polish Community in England and Wales headed to the Crystal Palace National Sports centre to meet and pray with their fellow countryman.


Pope Saint John Paul II flew from London by helicopter to Coventry Airport. On arrival the Pope was met by the newly installed Archbishop of Birmingham, Maurice Couve de Murville, and a crowd of over 350,000 people.


A million people lined the route Pope Saint John Paul II took into the city of Liverpool following his helicopter journey from Coventry to Liverpool Speke Airport in 1982.


On Saturday, 29 May 1982, more than 4,500 religious gathered at Digby Stuart Training College, Roehampton to hear the Pope John Paul II's address.


At Knavesmire Racecourse in York, Pope Saint John Paul II celebrated Marriage and Family Life with a crowd of more than 190,000 people.

Three quarters of an hour before Mass at Manchester's Heaton Park on Monday morning, Pope John Paul II met the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, Sir Immanuel Jakobovits at the Convent of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth in Manchester.


Pope John Paul II spent a day-and-a-half of his tour north of the border in Scotland. Although the time was short, the Pope visited a total of seven venues and greeted hundreds of thousands of people.


Pope John Paul II flew from Scotland to Cardiff to conclude his time in Britain, kissing the tarmac as he landed on Welsh soil.