OTD: Pope John Paul II visits Quebec

On today’s date in 1984, Pope John Paul II visited the Musée de Québec before celebrating mass at Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Qué.

Also in 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 (Scott #1030), and the second stamp had a face value of 64 cents (SC #1031).

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).

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).

These two stamps were the work of Montreal graphic designer Louis-André Rivard. The concept centres on the Pope’s personal coat of arms: a blue shield quartered by a gold cross with the letter M in the lower right-and corner, the whole surmounted by the ancient symbols of the papacy; the triple crown and the keys of St. Peter. The background features a stylized map of Canada, with indications of the stops in the Pope’s journey from coast to coast.

That year, Canada welcomed one of the history’s most famous persons. Formerly known as Karol Wojtyla, he was the first non-Italian pope since 1523 and the first Polish Cardinal to be elevated to the office.

JOHN PAUL II

Wojtyla was born in the market town of Wadowice, 50 kilometres from Krakow, Poland, on May 18, 1920. His father, a former soldier, brought him up after his mother and his brother Edmund died. Young Karol went to the state school, where he soon revealed himself as a brilliant pupil, athlete, poet and actor. He entered university in 1938, but his studies were interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War.

Wojtyla soon helped to set up a network of underground classes and tutorials, as well as “Studio 39”, an underground theatre. During the war, his experience hewing stones in a quarry greatly influenced him as a man and a writer. Although he had been chairman of the Catholic Youth Organization, it was not until after his father’s death that he decided to become a priest.

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.

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.

Wojtyla was ordained in November 1946 and quickly rose through the clergy, distinguishing himself as a theologian, linguist, poet, and philosopher. He set down his beliefs in a number of publications. He made his mark at the Vatican during the synods he attended between 1967 and 1977.

On October 16, 1978, the College of Cardinals voted him Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, the Pope has travelled the world over to spread his message of peace.

More recently, in 2002, Canada Post issued a 48-cent (then the domestic rate) multi-coloured stamp (SC #1957) to commemorate World Youth Day 2002. 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.

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