It feels fitting that today, the day after Pope Benedict XVI canonized seven new saints for a Church so greatly in need of heroic role models, we are celebrating the life of Blessed John Paul II.
Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI presided over the Rite of Canonization and Eucharistic Celebration in honor of:
- James Berthieu
- Pedro Calungsod
- John Baptist Piamarta
- Carmen Sallés y Barangueras
- Marianne Cope
- Kateri Tekakwitha
- Anna Schäffer
If your Italian is current, you might enjoy perusing this booklet from the Vatican. Over the next few months, I hope to blog more about the lives and virtues of this amazing group of men and women, especially our two newly minted American saints.
But today, I want to spend a few moments looking back on the life of one of my favorites, Blessed John Paul II. And specifically, I thought I’d share with you a photo from my trip to Rome in May of 2011 to attend his Beatification. On May 1, 2011 I wrote this reflection detailing my experience of the Mass of Beatification. If you’d like to see a few photos of how bad my hair looked that day, but also how happy my smile was, click through. Here, I simply want to reiterate my impression of that day. While my my vantage point was far from perfect, I wouldn’t trade that moment in time for anything:
What I witnessed was the faith of the people, the love they had for this man — this saint — and the emotion they felt at the moment of the Beatification. Literally pressed against one another, when the time came to exchange the sign of peace our greetings were exchanged in a multitude of languages, but with a conviction that we are one, holy, catholic and apostolic. Had Blessed John Paul II been at an event like this, I tend to think he might have preferred my vantage point in the “cheap seats” to those who held VIP passes to the front row. My fellow pilgrims, old and young, white and black, cradle Catholics and fervent converts, came together in our discomfort to celebrate the life of a man who changed not only our lives, but also our Church, but also our world.
A year and a half later, we continue to pray through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II. I feel assured that his cause will advance. It’s my great desire to again be in the “cheap seats” for his canonization. It’s funny: prior to attending the Beatification I had written a chapter on the life of Pope John Paul II for my A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. That work was re-written after my visit to the Vatican, as were my impressions of this amazing man, the first Pope I ever really “knew” in my own heart.
I’d imagine many of you share my personal sense of “this is what he meant to me” with Blessed John Paul II. Feel free to use the comboxes today to pray through his intercession for special intentions in your life or to share a word on how his life and theology have impacted you. Blessed JP II, we love you!
- Learn more about A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms
- Vatican documents relating to the Beatification of Blessed John Paul II