Pope Francis' visit to the United States is historic for many reasons, including the first time a pope addresses Congress.

Even so, every pope who makes it to the United States since the first holy visit 50 years ago always makes sure to stop by the Big Apple, and Pope Francis is not so different.

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"He knows what he wants with the Church — he wants to see the Church going out, reaching out to poor people," said the Rev. Edward Dougherty of Manhattan's Church of Our Lady of Victory not far from the 9/11 Memorial the pope is scheduled to visit Friday. "That's the kind of message he wants to impart while he's here."


City officials already expect to have 6,000 NYPD officers on hand to complement hundreds of FBI and Secret Service agents leading security efforts between Thursday and Saturday, when the pope leaves for Philadelphia.

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"We can see how he is acting with the crowds in Washington because he has this desire to mingle, which is very different from other popes," Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told reporters Monday.

Still, New York City has plenty of practice when it comes to papal visits.

New Yorkers greeted their first pope on American soil in 1965, when Pope Paul VI arrived at Kennedy Airport in what ended up being a 14-hour visit, including a quick talk with then-President Lyndon Johnson at the Waldorf Astoria hotel.

Like Pope Francis, Pope Paul VI filled up a major New York City sporting arena for a Mass, only back then the High Holiness held the ceremony from the diamond at Yankee Stadium.

Ever since, all popes have presided over Mass at Yankee Stadium — except Pope Francis, who will receive thousands of parishioners at Madison Square Garden.

Pope John Paul II was the next Holy Father to swing by the five boroughs in 1979. Unlike his predecessor, John Paul II made New York one of a handful of stops around the country.

He did the same in 1995, 10 years before he passed away.

It wasn't until 2008 that the next pope graced New York with another visit. Pope Benedict XVI visited other cities same as John Paul before him, and he made sure to address the United Nations like all visiting popes, but he also became the first to visit Ground Zero.

All popes who have flown into New York City have visited or held mass at the historic St. Patrick's Catholic Church in midtown Manhattan. But city officials and religious observers alike are anticipating Pope Francis will directly reach out to New Yorkers in ways that previous popes may not have.

"I think this is exciting and we're really proud," the Rev. Dougherty said. "This is a different time for the papacy."

Additional reporting by Karina Cuevas.

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