Papal visits to the United States

Pope Francis’s visit this September marks the 10th time a Pope has visited the United States.

Since the Federal Government is heavily involved in a papal visit, and the National Archives holds the records of the Federal Government, we have documents related to all these events.

The first Pope to visit the United States was Pope Paul VI, who met with President Lyndon Johnson at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York City. This was Paul VI’s only visit to the United States.

President Johnson's Daily Diary Entry, showing visit with Pope Paul VI, October 4, 1965. (National Archives Identifier192458)

President Johnson’s Daily Diary Entry, showing a visit with Pope Paul VI, October 4, 1965. (National Archives Identifier 192458)

 

Nearly 15 years passed before another papal visit. In 1979, Pope John Paul II came to the United States and became the first Pope to visit the White House. Pope John Paul II visited the United States a total seven of times.

President Jimmy Carter's Handwritten Notes on Meeting with Pope John Paul II, October 6, 1979. (National Archives Identifier 6207614)

President Jimmy Carter’s handwritten notes on meeting with Pope John Paul II during his first visit to the White House, October 6, 1979. (National Archives Identifier 6207614)

Pope John Paul II greets the waiting crowd at Kelly Air Force Base, September 10, 1987. (National Archives Identifier6427144)

Pope John Paul II greets the waiting crowd at Kelly Air Force Base during his fourth visit to the U.S., September 10, 1987. (National Archives Identifier 6427144)

hotograph of President William J. Clinton and Pope John Paul II Admiring the Crowd at Denver's Stapleton International Airport, August 12, 1993. (National Archives Identifier 3172769)

Photograph of President William J. Clinton and Pope John Paul II in front of a crowd at Denver’s Stapleton International Airport during the Pope’s fifth visit to the U.S., August 12, 1993. The Pope was in the U.S. for World Youth Day. (National Archives Identifier 3172769)

 

On April 16, 2008, on his 81st birthday, Pope Benedict XVI visited President George W. Bush at the White House. This was the most recent papal visit until this week.

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush Greet Pope Benedict XVI on His Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, April 15, 2008. (National Archives Identifier 7582808)

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush greet Pope Benedict XVI on his arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, April 15, 2008. (National Archives Identifier 7582808)

Search our Online Catalog for more documents and photographs of papal and other dignitaries’ visits.

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