He had visited Los Angeles once before, in August 1976 as Cardinal Karol Jozef Wojtola, archbishop of Krakow. Two years later, he became known the world over as Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope in four centuries. Within weeks, he had begun what became a signature of his pontificate: traveling the world, again and again. In September 1987, the outgoing pontiff with the mesmerizing ability to speak in many languages visited nine U.S. cities, including a 48-hour stop in Los Angeles. On the morning of Sept. 15, he was greeted at Los Angeles International Airport by a group of Catholic schoolchildren, and soon, accompanied by Archbishop Roger Mahony, was roding the “popemobile” through the city’s streets into downtown, with hundreds of thousands lining the route, representing the magnificent cultural and ethnic diversity that is the Catholic Church of Los Angeles.A prayer service/welcome at St. Vibiana’s Cathedral was followed by meetings with media professionals and a teleconferenced gathering with youth in Universal City, and Mass at the Memorial Coliseum. On Sept. 16, traveling by helicopter, Pope John Paul celebrated morning prayer with the U.S. bishops at San Fernando Mission, and addressed them at Queen of Angels Seminary High School (now Bishop Alemany High School) next door. In the afternoon, he met with students from Immaculate Conception School downtown, followed by an historic gathering with leaders of world religions in Little Tokyo, and finally a second Mass at Dodger Stadium with the U.S. bishops concelebrating.All too soon, it seemed, the pope departed Los Angeles on the morning of Sept. 17 for Monterey and San Francisco, leaving behind warm and indelible impressions on all he encountered.{gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0914/visit/{/gallery}