Pope John Paul II

Hundreds of people have been giving public witness to the ways Pope John Paul II changed or even saved their lives. Men and women of all ages and nationalities have sent personal stories to www.karol-wojtyla.org — a website run by the Diocese of Rome dedicated to the late pope’s beatification and canonization. As of April 28, the multi-lingual site published more than 400 testimonies from people sharing the ways they feel Pope John Paul interceded on their behalf or brought them back to the church. Many are notes of thanks for prayers answered, such as a risky surgery gone well or troubles in the family resolved. Others are personal accounts of meeting or seeing the pope during one of his many trips abroad and the feeling of being in the presence of a holy and charismatic man. Others were influenced by the way Pope John Paul reached out to people in every walk of life. One woman wrote that she was driven to prostitution to support her family and had lost her faith in God. “I ask for pardon … in a moment of anger, I tore your picture to pieces,” she wrote. She implored the late pope to “always be near me. I ask you this. I don’t have anyone but you! Please help me find my faith again. I will continue to speak with you. I love you.”


The Vatican’s special exhibit hall wasn’t big enough to honor the life and ministry of Pope John Paul II, so the exhibit begins in St. Peter’s Square, said Barbara Jatta, curator of what is described as Pope Benedict XVI’s special tribute to his predecessor. “The exhibit begins in the square, which for the first time ever for a beatification, is decorated with one large photograph of the pope with his pastoral staff as well as with photographs from each year of his pontificate,” Jatta told reporters April 28. In addition, she said, “the exhibit leads directly to the basilica where people can venerate the tomb of Pope John Paul II.” Visitors can enter the main exhibit, housed in the Carlo Magno Hall off of St. Peter’s Square, until July 24 for free. The exhibit is a collaborative effort of the Vatican governor’s office and the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The entrance to the Carlo Magno Hall is under a super-sized replica of the Book of the Gospels; a hidden motor flips the pages, evoking a memory of how the wind turned the pages of the Gospel placed on Pope John Paul’s coffin during his funeral in 2005.The exhibit includes artifacts from the museum set up in his family home in Wadowice, Poland, like family photographs, a report card and the uniform he wore when he worked at the Solvay quarry and factory. Skis, boots and poles he used in the 1960s and a canoe from about the same time also are on display, along with prayer books and his black priest’s cassock.