Catholics are celebrating the anniversary of the first ever papal visit to the UK.

On May 31, 1982, around a quarter of a million people flocked into Heaton Park to catch a glimpse of Pope John Paul II.

The Pope visited the Prestwich park as part of his first ever papal visit to the UK.

Banners waved and hymns filled the air as hundreds of thousands of the came together to celebrate Mass with the head of the global Catholic Church.

This historic day is one that continues to live in the memories of people across Greater Manchester, many of whom have shared their thoughts and feelings of that momentous day.

Catherine Astin was a member of the diocesan choir and arrived in the very early hours of the morning to avoid the crowds.

She said: “It was a momentous occasion being the first time a reigning Pope had visited England, seeing the Pope-mobile wander round the park was very exciting and being in the choir we thought we would be close to all the action and get a good view of the Pope, but unfortunately, we were quite a way away.

“Seeing all the crowds of people who came to worship God in the park was quite awe-inspiring and the Pope was a very charismatic leader.

“It was also my birthday so it will always be an extra special day in my life.”

The day was also captured by the Parish of St Margaret Clitheroe in Rochdale when one parishioner reminisced about the day.

The parishioner, Connie Hunt, spoke about spending the night under the stars to be ready for the Pope’s arrival.

She said: “There was a real sense of excitement. We were, after all, about to see history in the making – the first ever pope to visit these shores.

“I well remember feeling elated and proud to be Catholic.

“It was a clear summer’s night, so we literally slept under the stars.

“I don’t remember sleeping much though as we spent the night chatting, praying, singing hymns, and watching the new arrivals.

There will be a celebratory Mass at Our Lady of Grace church in Prestwich today, Tuesday, at 7pm to mark the anniversary.