Pope John Paul II visits Soviet Poland — June 2, 1979
This week marks the anniversary of when Pope John Paul II began his multiday visit to his native Poland, at the time part of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The pontiff was greeted by hundreds of thousands of supporters when he arrived in the Communist nation, which still had a large Catholic population despite the political climate.
“Christ cannot be kept out of the history of man in any part of the globe, at any longitude or latitude of geography. The exclusion of Christ from the history of man is an act against man,” he stated at a mass held in Warsaw.
“Without Christ it is impossible to understand the history of Poland, especially the history of the people who have passed or are passing through this land.”
Many have credited the visit with spurring on the Solidarity Movement, which led to massive protests across the Soviet Union and eventually the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe.