Almost two million pilgrims rejoiced yesterday in the Eternal City as they celebrated the beatification of one of history’s most beloved Pontiffs, Blessed Pope John Paul the Great. Many remembered him as a world leader, often even crediting him as the leader who did most to defeat Communism. But all must have been touched by the much more personal perspective from the present Holy Father, whose poignant memories described not merely a great man but a saint.
His Holiness Benedict XVI remembered the Church’s newest blessed not only as his fellow successor of Peter but as his own former “boss”, his friend and his spiritual mentor:
“I thank God for Blessed Pope John Paul II. For twenty-three years, I was at his side and came to revere him. His prayer edified me: deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. And through his witness in suffering when the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, he remained ever a “rock”, as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to become all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation to become completely one with Jesus.”