One young woman's participation in today's canonization liturgy offered a special opportunity for intercessory prayer.
Julia Marie Desilets, who was a candle-bearer in the procession of John Paul II's relics, reflected, “I felt like I was carrying more than a candle. It was like carrying many of the devoted to the altar with their intentions, gratitude and love for these popes.”
“I felt like I was placing the prayers of all those millions of faithful there before the relics,” she told CNA on April 27.
Desilets is in her early thirties and describes herself as a “JPII generation child.”
“It was JPII whom I 'knew' as 'my' Pope,” she reflected. “Early on when I had first moved to Rome, I remember vividly the Holy Thursday chrism Mass and vigil afterwards that moved me.”
“It must have been one of his last celebrations of that event. He suffered so much that it moved me to tears and I remember truly believing that he carried the pain of humanity on his shoulders.”
The doctoral student at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome was also in the city when John Paul II died.
“It felt like the earth had been struck silent,” she recalled. “But there was a silent joy from the crowds today...as I sat up by the altar, I thought to myself how amazingly quiet a few million people could be!”
Desilets said the “unexpected role” of candle-bearer at the canonization mass “really came as a surprise!”
Many years ago she began volunteering as a translator in office responsible for postulating the cause of John Paul II's sainthood, primarily helping with articles for the English edition of the magazine, Totus Tuus. Although the publication was discontinued, Desilets was recently asked to help with the preparation of the official website and app.
“I thought I'd get a ticket but didn't expect a role to play!” she exclaimed. “I was very honored and felt like it was truly a gift from JPII!”
Although she regards the role as an honor, Desilets noted, “I was also very blessed to be present at (John Paul II’s) funeral and beatification in the midst of the tumultuous and energy-charged crowds - which in many ways is more moving than being 'above' it all.”
The young woman went on to note that she was also grateful for the witness of John XXIII, who was canonized alongside John Paul II today.
“I realize how much my generation and many others would have lived the experience of the Church so much differently had it not been for John XXIII's courageous step to open the Second Vatican Council,” she said.
“Every Pope from John XXIII through Pope Francis has been a leader of a different kind and has been the right inspiration for the times.”