For the first decade of his papacy, John Paul II's definitive series celebrated primarily his international travels. He quickly surpassed Paul VI as the most-traveled pope of all time, undertaking more than a hundred apostolic voyages outside Italy and flying more than 725,000 miles — three times the distance from the earth to the moon. One of his earliest foreign voyages was to his native Poland. John Paul II was the only pope from a formerly communist country, and his travels behind the Iron Curtain drew enormous crowds, helping coalesce opposition to Soviet domination. He also made more than a dozen visits to Africa, a continent that had been visited by a reigning pope only once before.
The last definitive series released during this time span was the 1991 set for the Sistine Chapel. The set shows details from the lunettes above the windows. Completed in 1984, these were the first of the chapel's features restored, and these stamps picture the lunettes in their newly revealed colors.