The Supreme Pontiff comes to town
In November 1986 the Supreme Pontiff completed an extensive Pacific Pilgrimage, involving Fiji, New Zealand and Australia. Pope John Paul II flew into Auckland after spending 2 days in Fiji. He celebrated mass at the Auckland Domain on the Saturday and at Athletic Park in Wellington on the Sunday, before flying to Christchurch on Monday, November 24th. He arrived in a special RNZAF Boeing 727 and was greeted by religious and civic leaders. A dedicated bus and motorcade then took him to the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament (Catholic Basilica) in Barbados Street for a homily and blessing. He was then driven to Lancaster Park in a specially designed Popemobile, greeting a waiting crowd of 28,000. A full Papal Mass was conducted between 10.45am and 1.15pm. It was unfortunately disrupted by heavy rain, causing much of the crowd to seek shelter. Following the mass a limousine took the Pope and his entourage to the Christchurch airport for a State Farewell, before departing for a 7-day tour of Australia. The visit was the first and only occasion that a Pope has visited New Zealand.