.- Celebrations to mark the beatification of Pope John Paul II aren’t simply confined to Rome. Around the world, many other places have also been joining in.
In Poland, says Associated Press, over 120,000 people braved the rain at the Shrine of Divine Mercy in the Lagiewniki district of Krakow to watch events from the Vatican on giant screens. Later a reliquary of Pope John Paul II’s blood was carried in procession to an outdoor altar where mass was offered.
“He earned this beatification and sainthood with his whole life,” 62-year-old Henryka Dudek told the AP. “We could not afford to go to Rome so we came here.”
Giant screens were also erected in city squares in central Krakow, Warsaw and Blessed John Paul’s hometown of Wadowice. There, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and his wife, Malgorzata, watched the events with local residents.
“I wonder what we would have been like and what would not have happened if we had not had our Pope,” Prime Minister Tusk said to PAP news agency. “All that good that we all have received is still working.”
Also present in Wadowice was the late pontiff’s school friend Eugeniusz Mroz, now aged 90.
“It is a great joy that my friend, with whom I went to school, is being counted among the blessed,” she said to PAP. “It is a great joy ... especially for the Poles that a man from Wadowice, John Paul II is being beatified.”
In Australia, large crowds turned out at St. Mary’s Cathedral in central Sydney to watch the beatification on a giant screen.
Following that, Cardinal George Pell of Sydney blessed a bronze statue of Blessed John Paul ahead of a special thanksgiving mass.
In the Philippines a popular church in the Quiapo district of Manila has put a relic of Blessed John Paul on display for people to venerate.
“Immediately after the last Mass on Sunday in honor of Pope John Paul II, we will have one of his relics venerated and kissed by the devotees,” Monsignor Jose Clemente Igancio, the parish priest of the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene said.
The relic is a piece of cloth taken from one of Pope John Paul II's cassocks. Msgr. Ignacio obtained it while on a visit to the Vatican several years ago.
Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of Manila officially marked the day with a 10 kilometer fun-run followed by Mass near Manila Bay. Sixteen-year-old medical student, John Paul Bustillo, was among the 3,000 athletes taking part.
“He (John Paul) was a model and an inspiration who united the world with his extraordinary charisma,” Bustillo said.
In Mexico, thousands of people gathered at giant screens at the country’s Virgin of Guadalupe Basilica in the capital, Mexico City.
Jorge Lopez Barcenas, a 70-year-old painter and body shop worker, traveled from central Hidalgo state to witness the beatification from the basilica.
“He was a person who elevated the faith,” the Associated Press quoted Lopez as saying. He says he saw the Pope during two of his five visits to the country.
Mexico was the third most-visited country by the Pope after Poland and France.
In India, Mount Carmel church in the Bandra Suburb of Mumbai held a special gospel concert on April 30, followed by the screening of the ceremony from Rome this morning, the Hindustan Times says. Father Warder D’Souza of Mount Carmel church says he already adopted Pope John Paul as the patron of the parish’s young people four years ago.
“Pope John Paul II was popular world-wide because of his love of the youth, and specially for us because he visited India (in 1986).”
Finally, all across the United States events are planned from coast to coast. In Denver, for example, Archbishop Charles Chaput is following Mass at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception with a prayer service at the Blessed John Paul II statue in the southwest corner of the church. Meanwhile Bishop James Conley is hosting a beatification party for young adults.
And it’s not just Catholics marking the occasion. The Simon Wiesenthal Center has announced that it will mark the beatification with a permanent exhibition of the Center's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. The installation will chart Pope John Paul’s friendship and solidarity with Jewish people says Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean of the Center.
“Pope John Paul II will always have a special place of honor in the hearts of Jews everywhere. In our two private audiences with the Pope, we experienced firsthand the uniqueness of this great man; from the very beginning of his pontificate, the warmth of his interaction—particularly how he engaged in conversation with each of the Holocaust survivors who were members of our delegation.”