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You are in: Liverpool > History > Discover > The Times > The Pope visits Liverpool

Pope John Paul II

Pope John Paul II in Liverpool

The Pope visits Liverpool

When Pope John Paul II visited Liverpool in 1982 more than a million people turned out to greet him. Watch and listen to coverage of the day.

When Pope John Paul II’s helicopter landed at Speke Airport on May 30th 1982 it was the beginning of a historic day in Liverpool’s history.

The Pope’s eight mile route from the airport to Liverpool city centre was lined by over a million people. Two thousand people attended a papal mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral and the Pope prayed at Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral.

The visit almost didn’t happen because of the Falkland’s War which was taking place at the time. Some nimble and delicate diplomacy by Archbishop Derek Worlock saved the visit which many thought would be cancelled.

Pope John Paul II

The Pope moves along Hope Street

The Pope was greeted at Speke Airport by Lord Mayor Stanley Airey before making his way to the two cathedrals in a motorcade including the famous ‘Popemobile’. Security along the route was tight as only a year previously the Pope had survived an assassination attempt in St Peter’s Square by a Turkish nationalist Mehmet Ali Agca.

BBC Radio Merseyside deployed reporters along the Pope’s route from the airport, where the Pope’s zucchetto (skull-cap) was whisked from his head by the wind, to Hope Street where the Pope travelled between the city’s two cathedrals.

The entrance of the Pope into Liverpool’s Anglican Cathedral was even more symbolic in a city which had once been split by religious tensions which had now almost disappeared under the leadership of Archbishop Worlock and the Right Reverend David Sheppard the city’s Anglican bishop.

last updated: 01/04/2008 at 16:27
created: 04/12/2006

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