I have been silent here on my blog about what has been happening to Pope John Paul II, in what clearly seems to be his last hours of his life. The reason is quite simple actually: I wanted to collect my thoughts and wait for a proper moment to express them. Well, that moment has come…CNN is reporting that the Pope has passed away.
I will be the first to admit, I’m not exactly a model when it comes to being religious. I have attended only a few masses in the past decade. I rarely pray (single digits as well in the past decade probably). When I do attend mass, I often have no clue on what is going on outside of a hazy memory of going to church when I was growing up and in Sunday school.
However this Pope was someone who has always touched me in a special way. He is the only pope I have known in my 22-years of life. Growing up, I remember hearing about how honest, caring, and special this man was. It seemed like he had this charisma about that touched everyone in their own special way.
In February of 1999, I visited Italy on a soccer trip for two weeks, where my teammates and I played soccer almost every day against Italian teams and got seriously beaten badly. Anyways, my personal view of the trip didn’t make the soccer matches the highlight of the trip…visiting the Vatican on a Sunday was the highlight. I remember feeling so in peace walking around, listening to the hymns being played, looking at the magnificant architecture, and listening to all of the stories being told by our guide.
All of the sudden, the crowd became hushed and it seemed like everyone’s attention was grabbed. I was too far back to see, but one of my teammates was much closer and came running (after taking a picture) over to where I was to say that the Pope walked right past him. I quickly worked my way through the crowd and while I never saw the Pope, I did see what I thought was the top of his head. I was maybe 50 feet away, but it seemed like I was touched personally by him being there.
Later that day, I watched the Pope speak from his window overlooking St. Peter’s square. In my pictures, all you could see is a white dot that was his hat. Just seeing something like that was extremely special and I’ll always remember it.
A couple of years, in the summer of 2002, my family and I went to Italy. Once again we visited the Vatican on a Sunday and again we saw the Pope speak from his famous window. While I wasn’t within 50 feet of him this time, we all felt that we were right next to him in spirit.
I’ll never forget him. R.I.P.