A banner depicting St. John Paul II hangs from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 27. CNS photo/Paul Haring.

Coming full circle with St. John Paul II

  • April 30, 2014

VATICAN CITY - Permit, if you will indulge me, a lapse into autobiography. That was, after all, one of the signal achievements of St. John Paul II, that his biography became part of so many autobiographies. The story of his life shaped the story of so many lives.

In St. Peter’s Square on April 27, I was early, arriving at about 6:30 a.m. for the canonization Mass. With more than three hours to kill before the Mass began I brought along some reading, Rich in Mercy, the Holy Father’s 1980 encyclical on the mercy of God, which seemed fitting enough for Divine Mercy Sunday. But even that did not exhaust all the time so I had about an hour where I had little else to do but look up at the portrait of John Paul hanging on the front of St. Peter’s.

I know it well, as I have the same image hanging in my rectory on Wolfe Island. It was taken by the same photographer who took the photograph of the sacred painting I chose for my ordination holy card, so I felt a personal connection. And then it hit me: John Paul has accompanied me at historic moments for the last 20 years of my life.

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