NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Five years ago, New York City welcomed the historic visit of Pope Francis.

The Holy Father spent a whirlwind 40 hours in the Big Apple in September 2015.

His first public event was a prayer service at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan told CBS2 he recalls the pope marveling the church was in the center of the city, right on busy Fifth Avenue.

“Throughout Europe, cathedrals are usually kind of separated in a park or in a square. He said, ‘this is in the middle of everything,’ and then he smiled and said, ‘which is where the church needs to be,'” said Dolan.

PHOTO GALLERY: Pope Francis Celebrates Mass At MSG

The highlight of the pope’s visit was a mass for 20,000 people at Madison Square Garden.

In his homily, he urged Christians to be witnesses to the light of faith.

The 2015 pilgrimage was Francis’ only visit o the United States so far during his reign.

Cardinal Dolan joked he thinks about the visit every day, because the archdiocese is still paying off the bills.

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