Pope tries to speak but gives silent blessing to crowd in St. Peter's Square

.- Pope John Paul II greeted thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square this morning with a brief appearance and blessing. Although he attempted to speak to the crowd, the Pope's words were not clear and the subsequent blessing was given in silence.

Faithful had gathered to catch a glimpse of the Holy Father on the traditional day of his weekly Wednesday audience.

John Paul appeared at the window of his study shortly after 11 a.m. for about 4 minutes. Crowds below greeted the 84-year old Pope with wild cheers and applause.

A Vatican aide read brief remarks written by the Pope in Italian, German who blessed the crowd at the end of the greetings.

In his message, the Holy Father said, "I greet the Italian language pilgrims, especially the boys and girls from the diocese of Milan who came to the tomb of Peter to express their faith in Christ who died and rose from the dead."

"Dear ones," he said, "may friendship with Jesus, our Redeemer, always illuminate your lives! Stay close to Him, through listening to His word and in active participation in the Eucharistic meal. Be His faithful witnesses, especially among your peers. I repeat to everyone with affection my Easter greetings."

He likewise extended greetings to the faithful from Germany, saying, "May the peace of the Risen One be always with you!"

Through the aide, the Pope especially thanked his fellow Poles "for your presence, for your expressions of benevolence and for accompanying me in prayer. With gratitude I am thinking of all Poles, at home and abroad. I bless you from my heart."

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