Before he became pope, Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, Secretary of State for the Vatican, made a trip to New York in 1936. At that time, he was the highest ranking Vatican official to ever visit the United States.
Cardinal Pacelli took a month-long cross-country tour led by auxiliary bishop of Boston, Bishop Francis Spellman, who was later appointed Archbishop of New York.
In New York, Cardinal Pacelli presided at the solemn Mass commemorating the consecration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He presented a candle, which was placed near the altar of St. Therese, in remembrance of his visit.
Three years after his trip, Cardinal Pacelli became Pope Pius XII.
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow, came to New York in September 1969 where he celebrated Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral alongside several bishops and priests. He delivered his homily in Polish, as the congregation was made up of delegations from the Polish parishes of New York City.
Nine years after his trip, Cardinal Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope since 1523.