Pope Benedict XVI's papacy continued his predecessor's worldwide travels, crisscrossing Italy and spending 100 days abroad to encourage the Catholic faithful and evangelize for Jesus Christ.
For the English-speaking world, the highlights of his travels included a visit to the United States from April 15-20.
“Christ is the way that leads to the Father, the truth which gives meaning to human existence, and the source of that life which is eternal joy with all the saints in his heavenly Kingdom,” he told 60,000 people gathered for Mass at New York City’s Yankee Stadium.
The Pope met with then-President George W. Bush and addressed the United Nations. He addressed the heads of over 200 U.S. Catholic colleges and universities and 195 Catholic dioceses' superintendents at the Catholic University of America on the topic of Catholic identity in education.
He also prayed at the site of the World Trade Center in New York City and met with victims of sexually abusive priests.
Pope Benedict’s apostolic visit to the U.K. from Sept. 16-19 2010 was the first time a Pope visited Britain as a head of state. His Mass celebrating the beatification of Bl. John Henry Newman drew 55,000 people, while Mass in Glasgow, Scotland’s Bellahouston Park drew 71,000 people.
The Pope visited British leaders like Queen Elizabeth II and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
His 24 apostolic visits outside Italy included three visits to his native Germany and three World Youth Days.
The pontiff's Cologne, Germany visit for World Youth Day lasted from Aug. 18-21, 2005. The event drew 405,000 registered pilgrims and an estimated one million people attended the Pope’s concluding Mass.
Pope Benedict’s visit to Sydney, Australia for World Youth Day from July 12-21, 2008 drew 500,000 people to the event’s closing Mass, one of the largest gatherings in Australian history.
At World Youth Day 2011, held in Madrid, Spain from Aug. 18-21 that year, the Pope’s presence helped draw as many as 2 million people to the closing Mass.
Outreach to the Muslim world also featured highly in some of his travels, like his visit to Turkey from Nov. 28-Dec. 1, 2006. He met with Orthodox Christian leaders and attended a Divine Liturgy celebrated by the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I.
The Pope’s Holy Land visit from May 8-15, 2009 included a visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher where Jesus’ body was buried and where he rose from the dead. He visited Eastern Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders and celebrated Mass at the foot of the Mount of Olives with Archbishop Fouad Twal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem.
Pope Benedict's visits to Latin America included his May 9-14 2007 visit to Brazil for the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean bishops. He held an apostolic visit to Mexico and Cuba from March 23-29, 2012.
His visit to communist-run Cuba was noteworthy for his well-attended Masses. About 250,000 attended his March 26 Mass in Santiago, Cuba. An estimated 700,000 people attended the March 28 Mass at Havana’s Plaza de la Revolución, during which the Pope praised Cuba’s progress towards religious freedom.
Shortly after that visit, the Pope decided to step down from the papacy, Vatican communications advisor Greg Burke said Feb. 12.
The Pope visited several other European countries. He went to France in September 2008 for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes.
Papal travels also took Pope Benedict to Africa. He visited Benin from Nov. 18-20, 2011 and Cameroon and Angola from March 17-23, 2009.
Asia was the only inhabitable continent Pope Benedict XVI did not visit.
His final trip as Pope was to Lebanon from Sept. 14-16, 2012. He celebrated Mass in Beirut for over 350,000 people, whom he urged to be peacemakers in a troubled region.
Pope Benedict’s foreign travels totaled about 100 days of his papacy, out of a total of over 2,800 days as Pope.
The Pope, who also serves as Bishop of Rome, also visited many parts of Italy. His 30 pastoral visits within the country included two visits to regions that had been hit by earthquakes and a visit to the Archdiocese of Milan for the Seventh World Meeting of Families in 2012. On June 17, 2007, he visited Assisi on the 800th anniversary of the conversion of St. Francis.
Before his death in 2005, Pope John Paul II’s 26-year pontificate included visits to 129 countries and helped define the papacy as a global institution at the end of the 20th century.
Tags: Pope Resignation