On October 1, 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Boston at the start of his first US trip. The popular pontiff greeted the enthusiastic, large Catholic community by parading the streets of Boston in a motorcade and holding a Mass on Boston Common. People lined the streets along the route from the airport to the Cathedral of Holy Cross and 400,000 came out to attend the Mass despite pouring rain. The amount of planning and security for this historic event was astounding. It was intriguing to see the images of Pope John Paul II waving from the sunroof of the limo-strikingly different from how we have seen the pope greet his followers since the 1980s, using a glass-covered vehicle.
- Leanne Burden Seidel and Lisa Tuite
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Ulrike Welsch/Globe Staff
Sept. 28, 1979: Audio engineers Jay Arthur and Robert Dutczak checked the lead control board for the papal visit sound system. Capron Lighting and Sound Co. of Needham installed a sound system designed and built by Bolt Beranek & Newman. Two speaker towers 40 feet high were set up beside the pavilion, three more clusters of speakers were located 600 feet from the pavilion on 30-foot towers, and loudspeakers were located in trees at seven other places on the Common.
David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Oct. 1, 1979: Cardinal Humberto S. Mederios and first lady Rosalyn Carter greeted Pope John Paul II on his arrival at Logan Airport. The cardinal and the president’s wife entered the plane, greeted the pontiff inside, and then followed him down the ramp and along a red carpet receiving line. When the pope stepped from the green and white Aer Lingus 747 jetliner, named St. Patrick, that brought the papal party from Ireland, he became the first reigning pontiff ever to visit Boston. (It is rare to find a color print in our files from this time. This proved it was a very big news event — page one printed in color.)
George Rizer/Globe Staff
Oct. 1, 1979 : Pope John Paul II passed people lined up on Boylston Street in a black limousine with a sunroof, through which he stood for his welcoming procession through the city. Wearing a red hat as protection against the sporadic rainfall, the pope smiled broadly and waved continuously at the thousands lining the streets.
Janet Knott/Globe Staff
Oct. 1, 1979: Two-year-old Maria Renda looked out a window below a banner from the Passacantilli family welcoming Pope John Paul II to the North End.
Janet Knott/Globe Staff
Oct. 1, 1979: Pope John Paul II's motorcade drove through the North End where almost 60,000 people lined Hanover Street. Confetti fell amid choruses of "Vive Il Papa" and "Vive Centanni," the colloquial expression for "may you reign 100 years."
Bill Greene/Globe Staff
Oct. 1, 1979: In a showing of the city's racial unrest, protests occurred during the papal visit. Representative Mel King addressed about 1,800 demonstrators protesting in front of the Holy Cross Cathedral over what they said was racism and violence in the city. This was a response to the shooting of black football player Darryl Williams on Sept. 28, 1979, at a football game in Charlestown. A prayer for the recovery of Darryl Williams was offered at the Mass on the Common.
Joseph Dennehy/Globe Staff
Oct. 1, 1979: Pope John Paul II blessed the children waiting outside as he entered the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
Ulrike Welsch/Globe Staff
Oct. 1, 1979: Greeted by nearly 2,000 priests in a cheering and foot-stomping welcome at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Pope John Paul II first made his way to the side altar of St.Joseph, to a waiting prie-dieu covered with a white silken scarf and fell to his knees for a full minute, his head bowed in prayer. He then joined the more than 30 cardinals and bishops assembled on the high altar for Mass.
Charles Dixon/Globe Staff
Oct. 1, 1979: Anthony Lanzara, 3, of Nashua, N.H., held a banner as he waited for a chance to see Pope John Paul II from his spot on Boston Common.
Frank O'Brien/Globe Staff
Oct. 1, 1979: An estimated crowd of 400,000 listened to Pope John Paul II say Mass on the Boston Common. The Mass, the first celebrated by a pope in Boston, lasted an hour and a half. It started 20 minutes late, just as the downpour began, lasting throughout the service. The soaked crowd all stayed to hear the pope's message as he told them: "I want to meet you and tell you all — men and women of all creeds and ethnic origins, children and youth, fathers and mothers, the sick and the elderly — that God loves you; that He has given you a dignity as human beings that is beyond compare."
Ted Dully/Globe Staff
Oct. 1,1979: Pope John Paul II administered communion during the rain's heaviest downfall. Several hundred priests were dispatched into the crowd to distribute communion. The paper-thin hosts, wafers of unleavened bread, were in danger of being melted by the pouring rain. People voluntarily held their umbrellas over the priests to protect the chalices filled with the communion bread as the pope was shielded.
Dan Sheehan/Globe Staff
Oct. 1, 1979: Boston Common was a quagmire after the Papal Mass was over and the crowd had left. The mud coated people's shoes and socks and blankets, many of which were left behind for workers to dispose of.