Pope John Paul II should be declared a “patron saint of youth.” That’s the opinion of none other than the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins.
“I personally think that John Paul II should be made patron saint of youth,” Cardinal Martins told a gathering a Rome’s Santa Croce University on April 30. He even mapped out how that could be achieved.
“Some saints are patrons. If somebody wants to make a proposal to nominate somebody as a patron saint, though, then they must submit comprehensive documentation on their reasons and motivations.”
It’s easy to understand Cardinal Martins thinking. Over the 27 years of his papacy, Pope John Paul II had a particular rapport with young people. So much so that he was known to many as “the Pope of Youth.”
In 1984 he initiated a now-famous event, World Youth Day, to enable him to meet young people from around the globe every three years. The initiative proved to be such a success that the 1995 event in the capital city of the Philippines, Manila, brought over five million young pilgrims together with the Pope. It’s still estimated as the largest communal gathering in history.
His challenge to the young people on that occasion was typical of his pontificate. “Are you capable of giving yourselves, your time, your energy and your talent to the well-being of others? Are you capable of love? If you are, the Church and society can expect great things of each one of you.”
There is already a patron saint of youth, the 16th century Portuguese Jesuit St. Aloysius Gonzaga. It is not unheard of, though, for there to be more than one patron saint of a particular cause. Any proposal to make Pope John Paul II a fellow patron saint of youth would have to go before the Vatican body responsible, the Congregation for Divine Worship.