The Archive Collection

Inside the Archives: Papal Medal

October 9, 2022

During the course of 2022, we’ll take a look at memorabilia from locations where Billy Graham preached and where Franklin Graham or Will Graham will preach this year during evangelistic events, continuing the legacy Billy Graham and his team began more than 70 years ago.

In 1990, Billy Graham was gifted this silver medal while he was visiting Pope John Paul II at the Vatican near Rome, Italy.

Medal presented to Billy Graham by Pope John Paul II

Billy Graham had a special friendship with Pope John Paul II built on mutual respect and a love of Scripture.

When Billy Graham first went to Poland in 1978, he was scheduled to have tea during that visit with then-Roman Catholic Cardinal Karol Wojtyla.

Unfortunately, Pope John Paul I had died unexpectedly and  Cardinal Wojtyla left Krawkow for the meeting of the College of the Cardinals as Billy Graham was arriving in the city. During that meeting of the cardinals, Cardinal Wojtyla was named as the new pope and adopted the name Pope John Paul II.

Billy Graham meets Pope John Paul II for the first time in 1981

In 1981, Billy Graham returned to Europe, and, following a visit to Hungary, he made a brief visit to the Vatican where he was received by Pope John Paul II – his first meeting with a pope. Rev. Graham recounts this visit in his autobiography Just As I Am: “As I was ushered into his quarters, Pope John Paul II greeted me, and we shook hands warmly. I found him extremely cordial and very interested in our ministry, especially in his homeland. After only a few minutes, I felt as if we had known each other for many years.”

Billy Graham preaches in Turin, Italy in 1967

In addition to his visits to Rome, Billy Graham also held a one-day Crusade event in Italy on July 5, 1967 in Turin where approximately 3,000 people attended.

The Legacy Continues

This year, Franklin Graham follows in his father’s footsteps as he holds an evangelistic event in Milan in the same city where Samaritan’s Purse had a field hospital during the COVID crisis there in 2020. To find out more about the Noi Festival, visit

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