Papal Visit (John Paul II)

On 29 May 1982 Pope John Paul II became the first reigning Pope ever to visit UK. The Canterbury city streets were lined with 25,000 well-wishers when he arrived by helicopter and travelled to the cathedral.  After a meeting with Dr Runcie, Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Prince of Wales, held at the deanery, the Pope attended a ceremony with Dr Runcie and Rev Dr Kenneth Greet (Methodist minister), renewing their baptismal vows together. The church leaders then greeted all the cardinals and bishops with a “kiss of peace” before lighting candles for Christian martyrs of different faiths.  Later, the Pope and Archbishop Runcie knelt in silent prayer at the spot where Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170 (Image 1 – copyright uncertain).

What to see:

  • the wall tablet in the Martyrdom commemorating the Pope’s visit  (Image 2)
  • the Papal insignia placed later in the cloisters – the letter M signifies the Virgin Mary (Image 3)

Sources:  see standard cathedral sources