OTD: Pope John Paul II arrives in Toronto

On today’s date in 2002, former pope John Paul II arrived in Toronto for the 10th World Youth Day 2002 (WYD2002).

WYD2002 was a Catholic youth festival held July 23-28. The celebration of faith was established by John Paul II and held internationally every two to three years.

It would be John Paul II’s last World Youth day, where upwards of 500,000 children from the world over participated in the week-long festival, the theme of which was borrowed from Matthew 5:13-14: “You are the salt of the earth … you are the light of the world.”

In 1984, Canada Post commemorated former pope John Paul II’s papal visit to Canada with a set of two stamps, including this 32-cent issue (CS #1030).

In 1984, Canada Post commemorated former pope John Paul II’s papal visit to Canada with a set of two stamps, including this 32-cent issue (SC #1030).

With deteriorating health, there was speculation John Paul II would be unable to attend the celebrations; however, he did, and at his arrival address, he thanked all levels of the Canadian government for supporting WYD.

In 2002, Canada Post issued a 48-cent (then the domestic rate) multi-coloured stamp (Scott #1957) to commemorate WYD2002. Printed by Ashton-Potter on JAC paper using six-colour lithography, the stamps were die cut with general tagging along each side. Measuring 30 mm x 40 mm (vertical), the stamps were available in sealed and unsealed booklets of eight stamps. The official first-day cover was cancelled in Toronto.

Designed by Lise Giguère, of Montréal, with photography by François Brunelle, the stamp incorporated the WYD logo without compromising its aesthetic qualities and while maintaining the religious atmosphere of the event. The prominent logo consists of four elements to symbolize the location, participants and spirit of this international event. The cross symbolizes the presence of Jesus Christ and has a shape similar to the pope’s pastoral staff. A yellow circle represents the attending youth, while the blue section represents the oceans and waters of Canada. The three open sides symbolize the oceans bordering Canada: Pacific on the west, Atlantic on the east, and Arctic to the north. The maple leaf is Canada’s national symbol and is representative of the kindness and hospitality foreign guests often receive.

The Crown corporation also issued this 64-cent stamp (CS #1031) as part of its commemoration of the former pope’s first visit to Canada.

The Crown corporation also issued this 64-cent stamp (SC #1031) as part of its commemoration of the former pope’s first visit to Canada.

EARLIER ISSUES

Going back even further, to 1984, Canada Post issued a set of two stamps to mark the papal visit that would take place later that year. Upon arrival, John Paul II became the first pope to step foot in Canada when he visited from Sept. 9-20.

The stamps were printed by Ashton-Potter on Harrison and Sons paper with general tagging along two opposite edges. Designed by Louis-Andre Rivard, each stamp features the papal coat of arms laid overtop a map. The first commemorative stamp had a face value of 32 cents (SC #1030), and the second stamp had a face value of 64 cents (SC #1031).

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