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The traveling Pope: 104 international trips to 129 countries


He led a packed schedule that would make any season traveler envious. But John Paul II had a very specific mission, to evangelize the world. In his 26 years of travel, the Pope led a total of 104 pastoral trips outside Italy. In all, he visited 129 countries.

Archbishop emeritus of Manila (Philippines)
March 2, 2011
"He had accomplished perhaps something that has never been accomplished by a Church people except Saint Paul. But even Saint Paul, he traveled around the Mediterranean. But this man, John Paul II, he really went to every corner of the world, I think from North to South we can't count all the places he has gone through.”

When broken down by continent, Africa has the largest number of stops. He visited 43 countries there. He also made his way to 33 countries in Europe, excluding Italy. In Asia, he visited 19 countries, 17 in North America, all 10 in South America, while he traveled to six in Oceania.

But those numbers don't reflect the countries he visited more than once. The Polish Pope traveled to his homeland a total of nine times, more than any other country. 

John Paul II visited France eight times, seven to the mainland. He visited the United States seven times, and he traveled to Mexico and Spain five times.

In fact, his first two trips, in 1979, just months after his election, were to Mexico and Poland. His last trip abroad was to the Marian shrine at Lourdes.

Though he wasn't the first Pope to travel, John Paul II was the first to travel to many new countries, especially in the Third World. His extensive trips took to even the smallest, most remote places like Guam, the Seychelles or Curaçao

Archbishop emeritus of Manila (Philippines)
March 2, 2011
"John Paul II is the beloved Pope on the whole world, loved by not only Catholics, but also for those who are non-believers. and the reason for this is that he really brought the papacy close to people, not only in the way he had addressed his audience, but also in the way he had visited so many countries.”

In many ways, John Paul II was a man of many notable firsts. During his first trip to the United States in 1979, he became the first Pope to visit the White House, where he met with President Jimmy Carter. 

Three years later, he became the first reigning Pope to visit the United Kingdom, since the Church of England split from the Catholic Church. During that visit he met with Queen Elizabeth, and he prayed with the Archbishop of Canterbury at the Canterbury Cathedral, the see of the Anglican Church.

Archbishop emeritus of Manila (Philippines)
March 2, 2011
"He went to the places where the people were. So, for that along, we have to thank God for giving us John Paul II, because he really brought Jesus with him and brought Jesus to those corners of the world where the Lord had never physically gone. He brought Jesus there.”

In 2001, he also traveled to Syria, becoming the first Pope to set foot inside a mosque. He visited the site where John the Baptist is believed to be buried in Damascus.

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