His Holiness, Pope Paul VI, was the first Pope to visit the United States on October 4, 1965. The duration of the trip lasted only fourteen hours, starting at 9:23 a.m. on the first Monday in October, and was completely confined to New York City. His Holiness first prayed at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with 55,000 people lining Fifth Avenue.
Pope Paul VI later visited the United Nations General Assembly and the Vatican Exhibit at the New York Worlds Fair. He also accepted a telephone call from President Johnson at the Waldorf=Astoria.
Pope Paul VI then celebrated Mass at Yankee Stadium, with 92,000 in attendance, and visited the Church of the Holy Family on East 47th Street for an ecumenical service.
Although Pope Paul VI’s visit to New York was short, it is estimated that one million people were able to see him in person, and another 100 million were able to watch the events on television.
The highlight of Pope John Paul’s first New York trip was a Mass for 80,000 people held at Yankee Stadium, in which His Holiness read scriptures in both Spanish and English.
Pope John Paul’s second trip to New York took place in 1995 after already traveling to three continents that year alone. His Holiness celebrated Mass at Giants Stadium and the Aqueduct Race Track, address the General Assembly of the United Nations, and visit St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie.
The most significant moment of Pope John Paul II’s second New York trip was a very special Mass held in Central Park before 125,000 parishioners. Switching between English and Spanish, His Holiness asked listeners to remember those in need, including the homeless, the handicapped, and those living with HIV/AIDS.
Pope Benedict XVI arrived in New York on Friday, April 18 2008, after spending a few days in Washington D.C. Like his predecessors, Pope Benedict began his trip by addressing the United Nations. This trip marked the fourth time a Pope had visited the United Nations while traveling to the United States.
Pope Benedict later visited St. Joseph’s Parish on the Upper East Side in Yorkville, which was started largely by German immigrants in 1873. Pope Benedict held an ecumenical prayer service in honor of Protestant, Orthodox, and Catholic leaders celebrating their efforts for inter-faith unity.
On Saturday, April 19 Pope Benedict said Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the clergy and religious. The Mass boasted an audience of over 3,000 deacons, priests, and religious men and women with at least two representatives from each diocese of the United States present.
Pope Benedict spent his afternoon at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers and began with a very special blessing of youth with disabilities. Approximately 50 young people and their caregivers were in attendance for the blessing, and the Archdiocesan Deaf Choir performed for His Holiness.
The largest event of the day was the Concert and Rally with Seminarians and Young People, which was also held at St. Joseph’s Seminary. 25,000 young Catholics from all over the United States participated in the event, including 5,000 seminarians. Catholic youth presented the Pope with gifts to represent the five continents and to celebrate His Holiness’s recent birthday.
The final day of Pope Benedict’s visit to New York began on a somber note, as His Holiness was the first Pope to visit Ground Zero. His Holiness offered a blessing and greeted representatives from New York fire and police workers, survivors and loved ones of those lost in the attack.
Pope Benedict later followed tradition and held Mass at Yankee Stadium in honor of the archdioceses of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Louisville, and Baltimore (the four suffragan dioceses of the Diocese of Baltimore.) Former Vice President Dick Cheney hosted a farewell ceremony for His Holiness that evening at JFK airport, attended by 3,000 people.