When Pope Francis visits Washington, New York, and Philadelphia this September, he will become the fourth pope to visit the United States. His will be the 10th time a pontiff has made the apostolic trip, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Francis is the fourth pope to address the United Nations and the third to meet with a U.S. president during a U.S. visit.
Take a look at past papal visits with archival video that spans the historic trips.
Pope Paul VI was the first pope to visit the United States, and the first pope to address the United Nations. He met with with President Lyndon B. Johnson at the Waldorf-Astoria, addressed the United Nations General Assembly, visited the World’s Fair in Queens, and celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium. The pope presented Johnson with a painting, “The Resurrected Christ,” an autographed photo of the pope in a silver frame, and a box with the three medallions for the pope’s visit to the UN.
Pope John Paul II visited the United States for his first of seven visits in 1979. In several speeches at the United Nations during the apex of the Cold War, the Polish-born pontiff called for a defense of human rights and a reduction in nuclear arms. He also made a landmark tour of New York City’s iconic edifices: including a visit to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, and celebrated Mass at Yankees Stadium and Shea Stadium. He was also the first pope to visit the White House, where he reiterated his plea for arms reduction with President Jimmy Carter.
John Paul II’s second visit to the United States was notable for its outreach to minority groups. In New Orleans, he hailed the American civil rights movement in its fight against the “economic deprivation” suffered by American blacks. In San Antonio, Phoenix and Los Angeles, he greeted the country’s booming Hispanic population and its injection of vitality into the American Catholic church. He also visited Miami, Columbia, S.C., Monterey and San Francisco.
Catholics from the U.S. and across the Western Hemisphere joyously greeted Pope John Paul II upon his arrival in Denver for World Youth Day, at what was nicknamed "Catholic Woodstock." John Paul II praised youth for their desire to strive for a “more just and compassionate world,” spoke out against gun violence, and criticized President Bill Clinton for his stance on abortion.
Pope John Paul II met with President Bill Clinton to discuss America’s welfare programs and the efforts to find peace in war-torn Bosnia. The two still sharply diverged on the issue of abortion. In a speech to the United Nations on Oct. 5, the pontiff pleaded for an end to ethnic violence. Finally, in Baltimore, he invoked Abraham Lincoln in his sermon at the Orioles' Camden Yards, saying that a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” must embrace “moral truth and moral reasoning.”
The aging pontiff met with President Bill Clinton in St. Louis. In his visit, the pope spoke out against the dangers of hard-edged capitalism, condemned capital punishment, reached out to American Jews, and tried to rally young Catholics. “Christ is calling you; the Church needs you; the pope believes in you and he expects great things of you!” he told a youth rally at the Kiel Center on Jan. 26.
Benedict XVI met with President George W. Bush on April 16, the pope's 81st birthday, at the White House. This marked the second time a pope had visited the White House. Benedict celebrated his first public Mass in the country at Washington’s Nationals Stadium, directly addressing before 50,000 Catholics the sexual abuse scandal that rocked the American church. “No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse,” the pope said in his homily. While in New York, the pope also visited Ground Zero and celebrated Mass in Yankee Stadium.