Though Francis became the first pope to address the U.S. Congress Thursday, he’s the fourth to make a papal visit to the U.S. Fifty years ago in 1965, Paul VI first flew to the states, followed by John Paul II’s seven trips from 1979 to 1999, and Benedict XVI’s only trip in 2008. Click on the popes below to highlight their trips outside of Italy over the past 50 years.
John Paul II visited 129 countries – more than all other popes combined. His historic speech in Poland, long considered a precipitant to the fall of Soviet rule there, marked the first of nine trips to his native country. In all, he traveled approximately 721,000 miles, an equivalent of 31 times around the earth, according to an estimate by John Trigilio. Paul VI visited 15 countries before ceasing travel after being stabbed in the Manila airport in 1970. He expanded the pope’s international presence as the first to leave Europe in over a century, and the first to fly.
Since the start of his papacy in 2013, Francis has visited 16 countries, with a focus on his native continent of South America and Asia.
Photo credits: Stan Wayman—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images, Paul J. Richards, Saul Loeb—AFP/Getty Images, Charlie Neibergall—AP; Filippo Monteforte