The Catholic Church in Canada

Papal Visits to Canada

Throughout the centuries, Popes have travelled outside Rome and even beyond Italy; however, such occurrences were historically rare prior to commercial air travel, which only became common in the mid-20th century. Blessed Paul VI (1963-1978) was the first Pope to leave Europe and the first to travel by airplane. Pope Saint John Paul II (1978-2005) travelled considerably – even more than any of his predecessors combined – and his successors Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2013) and Pope Francis (2013- ) have continued in this tradition.

What is the motivation behind such trips? The main reason a Pope would travel to another diocese in Italy or to another country in the world is to respond to a particular pastoral need. While such trips may include meetings with political leaders or even seek to address questions of a political and social nature, they are not primarily for this purpose. In the mind of the Church, they are connected to the proclamation of the Gospel. Indeed, in the official language of the Church, such trips are called “apostolic voyages” in order to reflect their relation to the Pope who is the Successor of Saint Peter the Apostle and the Vicar of Christ on earth. In its history so far, Canada has received three Apostolic Visits, each made by Pope Saint John Paul II.

PDF MAP: Map of Pope Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Visits to Canada

 

Pope John Paul II's

Apostolic Visit
1984

Pope John Paul II's

Apostolic Visit
1987

Pope John Paul II's

Apostolic Visit
2002