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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 April, 2005, 20:26 GMT 21:26 UK
Kent looks back on Pope's visit
Prince Charles, the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1982
The Pope met with Prince Charles and the Archbishop of Canterbury
Following the death of the Pope, people in Kent have been remembering his historic visit to Canterbury in 1982.

John Paul II became the first pontiff ever to visit the UK when he made the six-day tour of the country.

He visited Canterbury Cathedral on 29 May to say prayers with the then Archbishop of Canterbury Robert Runcie.

Streets were lined by 25,000 people and the Pope told the congregation it was a day "which centuries and generations have awaited".

Cheering of the crowd

The pope arrived in Canterbury by helicopter having held mass at Westminster Cathedral and met the Queen the previous day.

Kevin Steele, who covered the visit for BBC Radio Medway, said: "I think the over-riding memory was the cheering of the crowd when he got out of the helicopter - it was quite a significant memory."

After making his way through the cheering crowds who gathered to see him, the Pope met Dr Runcie and Prince Charles at Canterbury Cathedral, with the three men posing for photographs on a sofa in the Deanery.

The Pope in Canterbury
The Pope addressing the Canterbury Cathedral Anglican congregation in 1982

The pontiff, Dr Runcie and Methodist minister Rev Dr Kenneth Greet renewed their baptismal vows together, before greeting visiting cardinals and bishops with a "kiss of peace" and lighting candles for Christian martyrs of different faiths.

The Pope addressed the congregation as "my dear brothers and sisters of the Anglican faith" and told them: "How happy I am to be able to speak to you directly today in this great cathedral".

The Pope and Dr Runcie knelt in silent prayer at The Place of the Martyrdom, the spot where St Thomas-a-Becket was murdered in 1170.

Derek Ingram-Hill, an honorary canon at the cathedral during the visit who himself died in 2003, reflected on that image on its 20th anniversary in 2002.

He said: "It was a very moving moment to see the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury praying on the very spot where the most famous of all archbishops, Thomas-a-Becket, had fallen so many centuries ago."


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