Newspaper of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

ROME (CNS) -- With songs, videos, testimonials and prayers, Catholics of every age and many countries gathered in Rome to remember Pope John Paul II on the eve of his beatification.

"I feel him present here in the Circus Maximus," the pope's former secretary, Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow told the crowd in Rome's ancient racetrack April 30. "I feel him returning tonight."

The vigil began with a two-minute video clip of Pope John Paul talking to young people in 2000, struggling at first to find the words and then bantering easily, to the delight of the crowd.

The video set the evening's tone of remembrance, and it was followed by a torchlight procession to an image of Mary, evoking the late pope's special devotion to the mother of Jesus. The vigil featured a live satellite link-up to five Marian sanctuaries around the world, including the pope's former Archdiocese of Krakow, Poland.

Pope Benedict XVI closed the event with a prayer to Mary and a blessing, telecast live from the papal apartment at the Vatican.

The crowd on a wet evening in the Circus Maximus was small at first but swelled to an estimated 200,000, many of whom planned to pray the entire night in preparation for the beatification Mass in St. Peter's Square the next morning. One of the many homemade banners read in Engish: "Karol, we are here with you."

Brother Tristan Abbot of the Cayman Islands, a member of the Society of Our Lady of the Holy Trinity, was among those who came to remember and pray. "John Paul II is our hero. He taught us what it is to love. ... We want to emulate him. We want to have his courage," he said.

Lady Joy Okechukwu from Abuja, Nigeria, came to Rome with 41 people from her archdiocese. Asked why she considered Pope John Paul II a saint, she said: "His humility, his kind heartedness, his love for the Blessed Virgin Mary. I love her too."

Thousands of candles glimmered in the darkness as a Philippines choir sang "Ave Maria." In an amateur video montage made by Rome students, young people said in simple language what they appreciated about the late pope -- especially his spiritual depth and his ability to reach out to all kinds of people.

The crowd cheered French Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, whose cure from Parkinson's disease was accepted as the miracle that paved the way for Pope John Paul's beatification. The nun beamed as she recounted her unexpected healing.

She said when she was diagnosed with Parkinson's in 2001 at the age of 40, she found it difficult to watch Pope John Paul, who suffered from the same disease. "I saw in him the image of my illness. But I admired his strength and courage," she said.

When the pope died, she felt a great emptiness, as if she had lost someone who could sustain and support her. Two months later, her condition had worsened. Then, after prayers to the late pope, she awoke early one morning feeling well rested.

"I felt something had changed in me, and I was healed," she said. The crowd in the Circus Maximus erupted in applause.

Earlier, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Pope John Paul's spokesman, told the crowd that he would sometimes find the pope kneeling in prayer, surrounded by small pieces of paper, which he would read one by one. They were prayer intentions that arrived by the thousands -- relatives of the gravely ill, parents of drug addicts, people looking for answers.

"All the pain of the world came to him. And he nourished his prayer with the needs of the others. I don't think there was room in his prayer life for his own intentions," Navarro-Valls said.

Cardinal Dziwisz, the pope's personal secretary for some 40 years, said he knew he was living and working next to a saint -- even before his election as pope in 1978.

The cardinal said he could remember only two times when Pope John Paul showed anger. One was during a trip to Sicily in 1993, when the pope vehemently denounced the Mafia in language that surprised even his close aides.

"It frightened all of us," Cardinal Dziwisz recalled.

The other time he saw the pope angry, he said, was just before the start of the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003, when the pope publicly warned that military action would never resolve the problems. "He was right," Cardinal Dziwisz added.

The vigil included recital of the luminous mysteries of the rosary, an innovation of Pope John Paul, led by pilgrims at the five sanctuaries connected via video, in Poland, Tanzania, Lebanon, Mexico and Portugal. The five mysteries were dedicated to intentions dear to the late pope: young people, the family, evangelization, hope and peace among peoples, and the church.

Eight churches in the center of Rome were being kept open all night so that people could pray until the opening of St. Peter's Square at 5:30 the next morning for the beatification Mass.

Events Calendar

August 2014
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
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05:15 PM
Savin Rock Conference Center, West Haven, West Haven Ct
Credo Catholic Singles, a community of single, widowed and divorced Catholics from throughout the [...]
06:00 PM
New Haven Green, New Haven, United States
NEW HAVEN – The New Haven Symphony Orchestra will present a free summer concert with the Brubeck [...]
Date :  August 02, 2014
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5
10:00 AM
Archbishop O'Brien Library, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
BLOOMFIELD – The Archbishop O’Brien Library will sponsor a summer film series, Catholic Cinema [...]
11:30 AM
Wampanoag Country Club, West Hartford, West Hartford, United States
WEST HARTFORD – The Mount St. Mary’s University alumni golf tournament will take place Aug. 5 at the [...]
Date :  August 05, 2014
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05:00 PM
Holy Rosary Parish, Ansonia, Ansonia, United States
Holy Rosary Parish will sponsor its 47th annual Italian festival, Festa! 2014, from 5-10 p.m. Aug. 7-9 on [...]
Date :  August 07, 2014
8
05:00 PM
Holy Rosary Parish, Ansonia, Ansonia, United States
Holy Rosary Parish will sponsor its 47th annual Italian festival, Festa! 2014, from 5-10 p.m. Aug. 7-9 on [...]
Date :  August 08, 2014
9
05:00 PM
Holy Rosary Parish, Ansonia, Ansonia, United States
Holy Rosary Parish will sponsor its 47th annual Italian festival, Festa! 2014, from 5-10 p.m. Aug. 7-9 on [...]
05:00 PM
St. Michael Church, Beacon Falls, Beacon Falls, Conn., United States
Credo Catholic Singles, a community of single, widowed and divorced Catholics from throughout the [...]
06:15 PM
Shrine of St. Anne for Mothers, Waterbury, Waterbury, United States
WATERBURY – A “Family Dance for Life” is set for Aug. 9 at the Shrine of St. Anne for Mothers, 515 [...]
Date :  August 09, 2014
10
12:00 AM
Knights of Columbus Museum, New Haven, New Haven, United States
NEW HAVEN – The Catholic Biblical School and the Knights of Columbus Museum have teamed up to host an [...]
Date :  August 10, 2014
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07:00 PM
Assumption School, Manchester, Manchester, United States
 Valerie Mara, assistant superintendent of academics for Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of [...]
10:00 AM
Archbishop O'Brien Library, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
BLOOMFIELD – The Archbishop O’Brien Library will sponsor a summer film series, Catholic Cinema [...]
Date :  August 12, 2014
13
12:00 AM
St. Paul Catholic High School, Bristol, Bristol, United States
"Successful Study Skills 4 Students" will be presented Aug. 13-15 at St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol for junior high school students in the morning and for high school students in the [...]
Date :  August 13, 2014
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05:00 PM
Chili's, Wallingford , Wallingford, Conn., United States
BLOOMFIELD – Credo Catholic Singles, a community of single, widowed and divorced Catholics from [...]
05:00 PM
St. Michael Church, Beacon Falls, Beacon Falls, Conn., United States
Credo Catholic Singles, a community of single, widowed and divorced Catholics from throughout the [...]
Date :  August 16, 2014
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10:00 AM
Tunxis Plantation Golf Club, Farmington, Farmington, United States
The 19th Annual Franciscan Golf Classic to benefit the Franciscan Life Center and Franciscan Home Care and Hospice Care, will take place Aug. 18 at Tunxis Plantation Golf Club, Farmington.  The $175 [...]
Date :  August 18, 2014
19
10:00 AM
Archbishop O'Brien Library, Bloomfield, Bloomfield, United States
BLOOMFIELD – The Archbishop O’Brien Library will sponsor a summer film series, Catholic Cinema [...]
Date :  August 19, 2014
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21
12:00 PM
St. Joseph School, Meriden, Meriden, United States
Open House at St. Joseph School
Date :  August 21, 2014
22
06:30 PM
St. Paul Catholic High School, Bristol, United States
BRISTOL – St. Paul Catholic High School will have its fifth annual Falcon 5k event at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22. [...]
Date :  August 22, 2014
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