By Christina Hermoso
The Roman Catholic Church will observe on Monday the Feast of Saint John Paul II, one of the most popular and well-loved Pontiffs of this generation.
Commemorative masses, special prayers, and processions will be held in many countries including the Philippines, which he visited twice in 1981 and in 1995.
Pope Francis canonized Saint John Paul II with Saint John XXIII in the Vatican City on April 27, 2014, a Divine Mercy Sunday, an observance that he established on April 30, 2000.
October 22 was chosen as his feast day to remember the anniversary of the liturgical inauguration of his Papacy in 1978.
Saint John Paul II served as Pope for 27 years up to the time of his death at the age of 84 on April 2, 2005. He was beatified by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on May 1, 2011, also on a Divine Mercy Sunday. The process for his beatification was the fastest on record as never before has a Pope been beatified by his immediate successor. Waiving the five-year waiting period, the process started about two months after his death after a French nun, Sr. Marie Simon-Pierre’s miraculous cure from Parkinson’s disease after she prayed to him.
The first non-Italian Pope in 455 years after having been elected to the papacy on Oct. 16, 1978, the Vatican newspaper refers to Saint John Paul II as “a passionate witness to Christ from his childhood to his last breath.”
Many Filipinos are familiar with Saint John Paul II as the Philippines had been privileged to have been visited by him twice, first in 1981 and then, in 1995 to attend the 10th World Youth Day celebration. Known as the patron of WYD, which he started in 1984, the holy mass that he officiated on Jan. 15, 1995, at the Rizal Park in Manila was attended by a record crowd of between 4 to 8 million. (Christina I. Hermoso)