During these last few months, significant dates of St. John Paul II passed us by, almost unawares: being born in 1920, he would’ve celebrated his hundredth birthday on 18th May; and he died fifteen years ago on 2nd April 2005, fifteen years ago!
His birth and death are significant moments in his life. Yet there are so many more moments which we could focus on. For us in Wales, we are approaching another significant milestone related to St. John Paul II, and that is his visitation to Wales in June 1982. I have spoken to many people recently, both laity and clergy, who remember the event with great fondness and excitement. Canon Mike Evans was recently sharing his memoirs of the papal visit, in which he deaconed at the papal Mass, prior to his ordination to the Priesthood. They are really interesting to listen to.
I have brought out from the Cathedral archives some key items of interest related to St. John Paul II, and particularly his visit to Wales. If you are able, please take some time to go over to the shrine and have a little look. You will see the chasuble he wore for the Mass at Pontcanna Fields, in which he reflected on the most Holy Eucharist, giving a group of children their First Holy Communion. You will see from one of the pictures (bottom right) the Holy Father greeting the crowds wearing the vestments. If you look to the bottom of the chasuble, you will see his coat of arms. During the Mass, the Holy Father also blessed the foundation-stone of a new Cathedral which had be proposed. This is also available to see. You may not know that the lectern which we use at Mass at the Cathedral was made for the papal visit. You will see a brass plaque commemorating the people who made it. An exact replica is at Wrexham Cathedral. The statue of St. John Paul II is a gift to the Cathedral from the Polish community.
In 2022, I would like to create a larger exhibition of these, including other items which are located around the Archdiocese. I would like to also include the memoirs and pictures of the people who attended. Maybe you were one of the people who made your First Holy Communion from Pope John Paul II. Or perhaps you were at the youth event. Over the next year, have a look into your photo albums and attic spaces, and see if you have any photographs which I would be able to borrow. Perhaps you only have your memories, if so, I would be excited to hear from you.
This mini exhibition at the Cathedral is a prelude of what is to come when we celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the papal visit in a couple of years.
I was searching online to see if there was any news footage to commemorate the 1982 Papal Visit to Great Britain, and I came across this documentary. The section on Pope John Paul II’s visit to Cardiff begins around 1 hour and 42 minutes.