Last month, Pope Francis announced his plans to visit the Holy Land in late May. The purpose of his trip is to be both spiritual and ecumenical, much like Blessed John Paul II’s was during his pilgrimage in 2000.
With great missionary spirit, Blessed John Paul II made visits like these a priority during his pontificate. He began in the West, Mexico, and the U.S. during his early papacy, traveling “to the uttermost parts of the earth” for the sake of the Gospel (Acts 13:47). Later he made it to places like Papua New Guinea and Madagascar.
In total, he made 104 apostolic journeys to 129 different countries. On average, he made four trips a year, logging over 700,000 miles and spending about 6 percent of his papacy outside of Italy.
Blessed John Paul II’s travels shed light on the youthful enthusiasm of the Church in places like Africa, where people greeted him with dance and song. They also brought publicity to places in the world where people were suffering, so that God’s people might properly embrace their poor brothers and sisters in solidarity.
“I must visit my people,” the late Holy Father said on occasion, and that he did. He made his papacy personal, connecting local churches with the church in Rome through evangelization and love.
We continue to countdown to the canonization of this globe-trotting pope. We are also in the middle of building a 16,000 square foot exhibit featuring events from Blessed John Paul II’s early papal travels and more, which is slated to open mid-2014.
Blessed John Paul II, Pray for Us!