San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

More Than a Million Ticos Turned Out for Pope in 1983

MORE than 1 million ecstaticCatholics thronged Pope John PaulII during his historic, 40-hour visit tothis country in March 1983, the onlytime a pope has landed on CostaRican soil.Arriving in an era turbid withviolence throughout the rest ofCentral America, the pope poundedaway at the theme that it is possibleto “bring justice and humandignity to all without resorting toviolence, and by paths that are neithercollectivist nor purely economiccapitalism.”Members of the Vatican presscorps traveling with Pope John PaulII agreed he was opening a front inthis region that had seen interestssupported by western democraciesand Communist bloc nations engagedin bloody guerrilla warfare fora decade (TT, March 5, 1983).“My gaze is not limited only tothis nation,” he said. “My thoughtsare laden with affection for all thepeoples and countries I will visit inthe coming days… I have heard theurgent clamor from these lands,invoking peace and an end to warand violent death.”Costa Ricans made it emphaticallyclear to the pope that his visit tothis strongly Catholic nation was thestellar event of their country’s nearly500 years of existence, as theythronged every inch of his route duringthe hectic two-day visit. Onlystern Vatican security guards keptthe crowds from mobbing him intheir religious fervor.

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