Less than a year after becoming Pope, now Saint John Paul II visited the United States. Philadelphia was one of the cities on his itinerary. I entered a drawing to receive a ticket to his outdoor Mass at Logan Circle. Almost thirty-five years later, I still have my tickets.
About a million people attended that Mass. I had received a general-admission ticket. While waiting for a train to go downtown, I met a woman who had better tickets for a reserved section. We discovered that we had a mutual acquaintance and spent the rest of the day Pope-chasing together.
The green tickets got us into an area one section closer than the white tickets. The Pope was still very far away from us. After Mass, my friend-for-the-day and I tried to catch up with the Papal motorcade. We kept hearing that the route was being changed to avoid passing inappropriate places, such as adult movie houses.
We found our way to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. It was getting dark outside as we were allowed to stand with the people gathered along the driveway inside the gate. The Pope’s limousine drove in and parked near the door, about twenty yards from us. John Paul II waved to the crowd as he walked from the car into the building.
I was asleep at 3:30 a.m. ET this morning when John Paul II and John XXIII were canonized. Fortunately, the Vatican has posted the ceremony on YouTube.