Blessed Pope John Paul II has been remembered one year after his beatification with a candlelight prayer vigil at the site where he hosted World Youth Day 2000 in Rome.
“What was the secret of John Paul II? I think I can say the unity between faith and life. He lived for God and for man to bring to God, because he was happy,” said Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the Diocese of Rome at the vigil April 30.
It was on May 1, 2011, that Pope Benedict XVI beatified his predecessor, six years after Pope John Paul’s death. The beatification ceremony in Rome was attended by more than 1.5 million pilgrims. Included in their number was Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, the French nun whose miraculous cure from Parkinson's disease paved the way for the beatification.
Cardinal Vallini was addressing thousands of young people from the Diocese of Rome and beyond at Tor Vergata on the eastern outskirts of Rome. It was here that Pope John Paul II told millions of young pilgrims to World Youth Day 2000 that “in saying ‘Yes’ to Christ, you say ‘Yes’ to all your noblest ideals.”
Last night, the World Youth Day cross returned to Tor Vergata, along with many of those who were in attendance 12 years ago. This time, however, they arrived with their husbands, wives and children to thank Blessed John Paul for his inspirational witness.
“Twelve years ago, I was here, under this same cross, on stage with the choir of the Diocese of Rome,” one female pilgrim told Vatican Radio.
“Today, after 12 years, I am here to thank him again, because I’m here with my family, my husband, my son, who is called John Paul Emmanuel.”
“I am getting goose bumps just at the thought of being here,” said another veteran of World Youth Day 2000, who described that encounter with Pope John Paul as “a moment that changed my life, which matured my faith, which made me really see what the faith truly was and that the faith could be the center of my life.”
In his homily, Cardinal Vallini recalled Pope John Paul II’s message of hope and urged the young and not-so-young people in attendance to continue to be “generous” with God.
On Wednesday, May 2, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the first anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s beatification in St. Peter’s Square.
At the conclusion of the May 2 general audience, Pope Benedict XVI spoke in Polish to the more than 20,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square, many of whom had come on pilgrimage from the late Pontiff’s native land of Poland.
He told them: “I am grateful to see so many of you in Rome for the first anniversary of the beatification of John Paul II.”
Pope John Paul’s “testimony, teaching and love for country continue to belong to your particular heritage,” he said.
“Strengthened by his intercession, may you be faithful to God, to the cross and to the holy Gospel. I bless you with all my heart. Praised be Jesus Christ."