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On September 17th 2010 the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, visited St Mary’s University, Twickenham as part of the first Papal Visit to the UK since 1982.

He visited the University’s Strawberry Hill campus to lead three events during the second day of his four-day state visit. 

In the first event of the day the Holy Father prayed with representatives of religious congregations, including those who have a charism for education and the history of education, in the University Chapel.  

He then went on to meet 3,500 school children and students to celebrate Catholic education at ‘The Big Assembly’ event. Finally, he met with religious leaders of various denominations and faiths in the Waldegrave Drawing Room to discuss religion and belief in our society.

St Mary’s was specially selected by the Vatican for its first-rate facilities and location, and for the outstanding contribution the University has made to Catholic education since being established in 1850.

Coverage of the events at St Mary's was broadcast to millions of people around the world and featured extensively in the local, national and international press.

Facilities used

The following facilities on St Mary's Strawberry Hill campus were used for the 2010 Papal Visit:

University Chapel 

The Holy Father began his visit to St Mary’s with prayer in the University Chapel, which was designed by Sir Albert Richardson (1880-1964), one of the last and most renowned architects to work in a traditional style. 

Mass is held in the Chapel each day and all are welcome. Please see the Chaplaincy section for more information about masses and liturgies.

Sir Mo Farah Athletics Track

Pope address crowds at St Marys

The Big Assembly took place on St Mary’s 6-lane 400m synthetic athletics track, which was covered with protective flooring for the event.  

Along with the University’s Teddington Lock Campus and £8.5m sports building, the track was used by international athletes from 10 countries as a pre-Games training camp prior to the London 2012 Olympics.

Waldegrave Drawing Room

The third event on campus took place in the Waldegrave Drawing Room, which was built around 1855 when Frances Braham, the wife of the 7th Earl of Waldegrave, extended Horace Walpole’s Gothic villa, Strawberry Hill House.  

The room forms part of St Mary’s historic and atmospheric Waldegrave Suite, a popular venue for functions and conferences.