Pellegrini was among a crowd of 400,000 that greeted Pope John Paul II that Oct. 1, 1979, his first day on U.S. soil as pope, arriving directly from Ireland. It would be the first of seven visits to a country beloved by the Polish pope.
To say that the future saint was greeted like a “rock star” is actually an understatement.
Elvis and the Beatles didn’t get responses like this.
The Pope visited several major cities, where he was greeted by phenomenal crowds, including the throng at a ticker-tape parade in Philadelphia. He celebrated Mass at sites as diverse and expansive as Yankee Stadium, the Washington Mall, Chicago’s Grant Park, and St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
The Mass at Yankee Stadium was packed with 80,000 people. The Grant Park crowd approached a half-million, drawn from the ethnically Polish and Slavic Chicago environs. At Philadelphia’s Logan Circle, the mass reached more than a million.