When The Pope Came To Town

Ahead of Pope John Francis’s visit to Washington this week, Next America takes a look at past papal visits to the United States.

Summus Pontifex, Pontifex Maximus, Servus servorum Dei.

Whatever you want to call him, the Pope is one of the world’s oldest celebrities. His presence—often atop a Pope-mobile and surrounded by security—draws crowds, babies, and much excitement. Out of the 266 popes, only three have visited the United States. Pope John Francis’s visit this week will make him the fourth. Next America takes a look back at his predecessors’ U.S. visits.

Pope Paul VI was the first pope to travel to the United States in 1965. The crowd hustles to try and catch a glimpse of him as he heads to the United Nations building in New York City. 
President Bill Clinton points out people in the crowd to Pope John Paul II upon his arrival at Stapleton International Airport in Denver on August 12, 1993. (Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope John Paul II made a five-day visit to the United States in October 1995. He started the visit in Newark, New Jersey. (J. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images)
Tight security in New York for Pope John Paul II. (J. DAVID AKE/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Benedict XVI arrives at Andrews Air Force Base in April 2008. During his trip, he said Mass at the Nationals Baseball stadium. (Mark Wilson AFP/Getty)
Pope Benedict XVI makes the sign of the cross at the Cathedral of the Basilica in Washington. During his six-day visit to the United States in April 2008, he hoped to heal wounds from the decades-long sex scandal that had disfigured the U.S. Roman Catholic Church. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Workers erect a riser in front of the the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. All hands are on deck for Pope John Francis’s arrival in Washington tomorrow. His first U.S. mass is scheduled for Wednesday at the Basilica. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)