Iowa History Daily: On October 4, 1979, Pope John Paul II visited Living History Farms in Des Moines. The 350,000 people from around the country who came together for mass represents the largest crowd ever recorded in Iowa’s known history.
How John Paul II ended up in Iowa for a speech centered on conservation and land ethics all started with Truro-area Madison County farmer Joe Hayes deciding to pen a letter to the Pope. The farmer’s words helped inspire John Paul II to include a stop in Iowa on a scheduled tour of the United States in 1979.
A group measuring in the hundreds of thousands arrived in Des Moines with the Pope, including a group of 99 Iowans who allegedly walked 300 miles round trip to attend the mass. “"Therefore, conserve the land well, so that your children’s children and generations after them will inherit an even richer land than was entrusted to you,” John Paul II implored the crowd.
A second stop in Iowa awaited the Pope the following day when he provided a sermon for an assembled group of 205 parishioners at tiny St. Patrick’s Church near Cumming. With the wish of a local farmer fulfilled, John Paul II departed to continue on his American tour. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar