OTD: Pope John Paul II closes World Youth Day with mass for 800,000

On today’s date in 2002, Pope John Paul II ended that year’s World Youth Day (WYD) celebrations with a mass for 800,000 people in Toronto’s Downsview Park.

The former pope spoke publicly for the first time about the church’s sexual abuse scandal, which he said “fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame.”

“If you love Jesus, love the Church,” said the pope in his homily on July 28, 2002.

“Do not be discouraged by the sins and failings of some of her members. The harm done by some priests and religious to the young and vulnerable fills us all with a deep sense of sadness and shame. But think of the vast majority of dedicated and generous priests and religious whose only wish is to serve and do good.”

It was Pope John Paul II’s third and final visit to Canada before his death three years later.

The Mint also struck the coin in silver.

The design of the 2014 John Paul II coin is also used on another piece (shown above) issued in Fine silver.


In 2015, the Royal Canadian Mint honoured the former pope’s canonization with the release of two coins—a $25 gold coin with a mintage of 1,500 pieces, and a $10 Fine silver coin with a mintage of 8,500 pieces.

The coins’ designs are based on a photograph of John Paul II offering mass during his first visit to Canada in 1984. The image captures the pope as he raises the consecrated host.

“Pope John Paul II was not only the first Roman Catholic pope in history to visit Canada, but a church leader whose pontificate featured many firsts around the world,” said Ian Bennett, then president and CEO of the Mint.

In 2005, the Mint struck this gold coin commemorating the former pope.

In 2005, the Mint struck another gold coin commemorating the former pope.

The gold coin has a weight of 7.8 grams and a 20-millimetre diameter while the silver coin weighs 23.17 grams and has a 36.07-millimetre diameter.

In 2005, Pope John Paul II was commemorated on another two coins—a $75 gold coin and another $10 silver coin.


  • John Paul II became the pope in 1978, at the age of 58, making him the youngest pope of the 20th century. His was the third-longest pontificate in Roman Catholic history.
  • He was often referred to as the “Pilgrim Pope,” travelling to 129 countries and covering a distance of 1.16 million kilometres throughout the course of his pontificate.
  • The 2005 John Paul II coin is also available in silver.

    Lech Walesa, the founder of the Polish Solidarity movement that brought down Polish communism in the late 1970s, attributed the movement’s success to Pope John Paul II.

  • Pope John Paul II was an accomplished linguist who was fluent in 12 languages. He spoke both French and English on his three trips to Canada.
  • In 1981, Pope John Paul II was shot in St. Peter’s Square in an attempted assassination but survived and went on to meet and forgive his would-be assassin.

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