by Jim Campbell
“Dear young people, dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. As my visit to Britain draws to an end, I am happy that this last meeting is with you – the youth of England and Wales, you who are the hope of tomorrow.”
(St John Paul II, Ninian Park, Cardiff, 2nd June 1982)
I remember with joy the visit of Pope John Paul II to Cardiff. I was then editing the Pontypridd and Llantrisant Observers and the Rhondda Leader, three of the 12 weekly newspapers in the Celtic Press Group.
I had organised the groups photographers and reporters to cover the Pope’s visit and had also visited Rome the month before to do some background research for the visit. I was invited, as the only journalist, to accompany the Pope on a Sunday visit to one of his 90 or so parishes in Rome. The Pontiff looked pale and worn, he was still recovering from being shot in an assassination attempt in St Peter’s Square. But on his visit, which was meant to be for two hours, he stayed for four, visiting the church, local school and community centre and seemed to draw strength from meeting and talking to people, especially the children.
By the end of his visit he was beaming and laughing as though his batteries had been recharged through the goodwill and support of the local parish people.
That’s my fond memories of St John-Paul II…but it terms of our memories of his visit to Cardiff Catholic People wishes to jog your memories.
After the Mass at Llandaff Fields he went on to Ninian Park to celebrate Mass for over 33,000 young people packed into the then Cardiff football stadium.
Do any of our readers remember that Mass for Young People celebrated by Pope John Paul II at Ninian Park in 1982? The cross displayed near the altar on that occasion was made at Allied Steel by the father of Samuel Franks, a pupil at Corpus Christi High School in Cardiff. His father was the only Catholic in the carpentry department and he was given the unique honour of creating the cross for the visit of the Holy Father.
The stadium has now been demolished and the whereabouts of the cross lost in the mists of time. Samuel would welcome any information as to what happened to it and if it has been preserved in some church, or chapel or school. It is an important memento of an extraordinary visit to Wales of St. John Paul II. Any information gratefully received.
See a BBC Online report by the late John O’Sullivan on Pope John-Paul II’s visit to Cardiff at:
If you have any information as to the whereabouts of the missing cross, please email firstname.lastname@example.org