Me and St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII … (pretend it’s a movie)

I was 29 years old on September 2, 1981 when I met St. John Paul II along with a big group of our sisters from the USA on pilgrimage. We were the first group to have a private audience with JPII – following a private mass with him at the chapel at Castel Gondolfo – after the assassination attempt on his life the previous May. He gave us each a white rosary in a brown case – can you imagine how many of these he gave away over the course of his pontificate?


The famed papal photographer Arturo Mari took these photos. In fact, as we waited early that morning to enter Castel Gondolfo, he came and chatted with us. The mass was at 7pm then we waited for a few hours to be with everyone else at the noon audience in the small courtyard there. Not sure if I have any photos of that day. But we did get mentioned in the L’Osservatore Romano then to NC news to The Pilot of Boston, English edition, that week.


I took this photo for the cover when Pope John Paul II visited San Antonio, TX in 1987. This event was held in a huge open expanse of space that was being developed into SeaWorld.

John Paul II in America is available on Amazon – used copies!  I had to decide to reach out and shake his hand or take the photo – which is why I was there. So I did! I just ordered a copy of the book from amazon for $.03 – postage about $5.00. Another memory …


Here’s my connection to Pope John XXIII. In 2000, I was on the Catholic Jury at the Venice Film Festival in Italy. We were invited to meet the then Patriarch of Venice, Most. Rev. Marco Ce. I was unable to take the stairs so I got to ride in the elevator that was installed for Cardinal Angelo Giuseppe Roncolli who was the Patriarch of Venice when he was elected Pope in 1958. As I recall there was a chair and enough space for someone to stand next to it. Pope John Paul I (Cardinal Albino Luciani) was also Patriarch of Venice before being elected Pope – and so was St. Pius X. This is the residence near the Basilica of San Marco


Click here to visit a page with a collage of many photos of our sisters (Daughters of St. Paul US/ES Canada Province) with Pope John Paul II over the years. I wish they had captions!

Here is an account of the day we (The Daughters of St. Paul) met now St. John Paul II on September 2, 1981. The account was written by our Sr. Christine Robert Rimmele (1949-1991). It begins the night before when we found out we would be able to participate in a mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II the following morning – after they had told Mother Paula “no”. Please note that in our Congregation we never used the term “Mother” for our superiors but “Maestra” that means “teacher”. I use “Mother” here because this is what most people are used to. But in this “diary” “Maestra” is used. Our congregation was founded in Italy in 1915 by B;. James Alberione and Ven. M. Thecla Merlo. Maestra Paula (1908-1991) came from Italy and began our congregation in the USA in 1932. She was our guide for most of the 1981 pilgrimage that was a way to begin commemorating the 50th anniversary of our foundation in the USA. You can tell by the way this is written that it is inspired by much youthful, and devout, enthusiasm ….




This is the article from THE PILOT … I lost the middle column in the scan but the part about my community is in the next image ….


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