As the Archdiocese of New York prepares for the arrival of Pope Francis on September 24, 2015, the Archives is taking a look back at the previous papal visits. Pope Francis will be the fourth pope to visit New York City and to speak at the United Nations since Blessed Paul VI’s historic arrival in 1965. See other posts in our blog series here.
With every papal visit to New York, there has been a great deal of excitement throughout the archdiocese and New York City. Although not everyone is able to attend an event during the visit, many people want a way to commemorate the trip, whether they were able to see the pope in person or not. Souvenirs from the visit are always very popular, from the first visit of Pope Paul VI in 1965, through the upcoming papal visit of Pope Francis at the end of this month.
Much has been written about the wide variety of items for sale to commemorate his trip, from the standard t-shirts and buttons, to bobble head dolls and even a papal visit beer! Even the official Pope Francis visit website has a store.
The first papal visit to New York City in 1965 was also celebrated with souvenirs, although they were somewhat less imaginative than beer and bobble heads. Pins and ribbons were sold to commemorate the visit, and people also kept many of the invitations, programs, and tickets from the various events over the Pope’s 14 hour historic visit. After the visit, there were commemorative issues of several different newspapers and magazines published, as well as two different books about the visit.
The 1979 and 1995 visits of Pope John Paul II were also marked with souvenir ribbons, this time with the addition of memorial coins and rosaries.
The most recent papal visit, that of Pope Benedict in 2008, had the most varied souvenir options. In addition to what was sold by non-Archdiocesan sources, the official memorabilia included things like magnets, t-shirts, hats, teddy bears, coffee mugs, rosary beads, and many other items. There was also a commemorative book published after the visit. We’re looking forward to seeing what items are added to the Archives after Pope Francis’ upcoming visit!