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IN PHOTOS: Thai Catholics mark 40th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II visit

Catholics in Thailand commemorated the 40th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s visit with a celebration at Holy Redeemer Church in Bangkok, co-hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland and the Apostolic Nunciature of Thailand.

The choice of May 26 for the celebration was due to practical considerations, including the availability of dignitaries and to align with a public holiday earlier in the month, reminiscent of the original visit dates from May 10th to 11th, 1984.

Key figures such as Artur Dmochowski, Ambassador of Poland; Archbishop Peter Bryan Wells, Apostolic Nuncio to Thailand and Cambodia; Mere Myriam Kitcharoen, SPC, Honorary Chair of the event; and Cardinal Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij, Archbishop of Bangkok, were present. 

The gathering also included various religious leaders and members of civil society.

Cardinal Kovithavanij recalled the 1984 visit, particularly the intense security at the National Stadium and a memorable moment during a mass. 

“The security was understandably very tight, with police and soldiers initially visibly armed even near the altar,” the Cardinal shared. “However, we managed to move them away by telling them the holy mass would not start with them there.”

He also recounted a lighter incident, “a humorous moment occurred when two children dropped an apple while bringing fruit to the altar. The Holy Father helped them find it, turning a simple mishap into a moment of joy for everyone.”

Nat Yontararak and Łukasz Kurzydło performing at the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s State Visit to Thailand, Redeemer Hall, May 26, 2024. (Photo by Catholic Social Communications of Thailand)
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The event featured an hour-long performance that melded Likay, a traditional Thai folk theatre form, with classical piano music. 

Thai pianist Nat Yontararak, decorated for his contributions to Polish culture, and Polish percussionist Łukasz Kurzydło, performed together, blending Thai and European elements seamlessly.

Katherine Fasai Lapassiri, a parish volunteer, said the event “is fantastic,” adding, “The integration of Thai and European elements was beautifully executed. It was a perfect blend.”

The celebration also served as a reflection on similar elements between Pope John Paul II’s visit and that of Pope Francis in 2019. Both visits included meetings with Thailand’s royal family and the Supreme Buddhist Patriarch, emphasizing sustained interfaith and international relations.

Photos by LiCAS News and the Catholic Social Communications of Thailand

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