It wasn’t the quite “Santo Subito” shouted out at Pope John Paul II’s 2005 funeral, but millions who have a devotion to the late pontiff have reason to cheer after his May 1 beatification — the fastest in modern times.
More than 1 million pilgrims traveled to Rome to witness the historic event, packing into St. Peter’s Square and streets surrounding the Vatican, with others watching on large screens throughout Rome. The crowd cheered loudly when the portrait of the new blessed was unveiled and when Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, the French nun whose miraculous cure of Parkinson’s through Pope John Paul’s intercession paved the way for the beatification, and Sister Tobiana Sobodka, the Polish nun who ran his household, presented Pope Benedict XVI with a reliquary containing the blood of the late pontiff.
Deeply united to God
Pope Benedict addressed Pope John Paul’s holiness in his homily at the beatification, along with his contributions to the Church, his bravery in taking on Marxism and his devotion to Mary. But he ended with his own personal reflections of his predecessor, whom he served for 23 years:
“I would like to thank God for the gift of having worked for many years with Blessed Pope John Paul II. I had known him earlier and had esteemed him, but for 23 years, beginning in 1982 after he called me to Rome to be prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was at his side and came to revere him all the more. My own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and by the richness of his insights. His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. Then, too, there was his witness in suffering: The Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a ‘rock,’ as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Church.
“Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God’s people. You often blessed us in this Square from the Apostolic Palace: Bless us, Holy Father! Amen.”
Washington seminary to be named for pontiff (sidebar)
On May 1, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., announced the archdiocese’s new seminary will be named for Blessed Pope John Paul II. The seminary will be blessed on Oct. 22, his feast day and the anniversary of his 1978 papal election.