Prior to praying
his weekly Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father
recalled that one year ago, "the beloved Pope John Paul II was living
through the last phase of his earthly pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of
faith, love and hope that left a profound mark in the history of the
Church and of humanity.”
Tens of thousands of pilgrims and visitors were on hand to hear the Pope’s words.
that "His agony and death constituted almost a prolongation of the
Easter Triduum. We all recall the images of his last Way of the Cross
on Good Friday. Unable to go to the Coliseum, he followed events from
his private chapel, holding the cross in his hands.”
continued, “on Easter Sunday, he imparted the 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing,
without managing to pronounce a word, just gesturing with his hand.”
called it the “most painful and moving of blessings, which he left us
testimony of his will to carry out his ministry right to the end.”
Benedict told the crowd, “John Paul II died as he had always lived,
animated by the indomitable courage of faith, giving himself up to God
and entrusting himself to Mary Most Holy.”
He said that the
heritage of the late pope “is immense, but the message of his long
pontificate can be summarized in the words with which he chose to open
it, here in St. Peter's Square on October 22, 1978: 'Open wide the
doors to Christ!'"
The Holy Father
then recalled how John Paul incarnated this appeal "with his entire
person and his entire mission as Peter's Successor," especially in his
that his meetings with the crowds, with religious communities, and with
political and religious leaders were "like a single grand gesture,
confirming those opening words. He announced Christ always, presenting
Him to everyone - just as Vatican Council II had -as a response to
man's hopes for freedom, justice and peace."
He reminded the
crowd that during John Paul’s last years, "the Lord gradually stripped
him of everything, in order to assimilate him fully to Himself. And
when he could no longer travel, no longer even walk, and finally not
even speak, his gestures and announcement were reduced to essentials:
to the giving of himself right to the end.”
“His death”, he
pointed out, “was the fulfillment of a coherent witness of faith that
touched the hearts of so many men and women of good will."
concluded his address saying that "John Paul II left us on a Saturday,
dedicated especially to Mary, towards whom he always felt a filial
devotion. We now ask the heavenly Mother of God to help us treasure all
this great Pontiff gave and taught us."
Sunday, the Catholic Church paused to remember the
one-year-ago-to-the-day death of Pope John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI
said that the completion of the late Holy Father’s earthly life was the
fulfillment of a “coherent witness of faith” which constituted the
Polish Pope’s entire existence.