If the Saintly Pope John Paul II were alive today 18th May 2020, he would be 100 years old. In the livestreamed Eucharistic Celebration to mark the centenary of his birth, held at his Tomb, in St Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis hailed Pope St. John Paul II as a man of prayer and Justice.

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the tomb of St. John Paul II in St. Peter’s Basilica May 18, 2020. Credit: Vatican Media

Pope Francis, who canonized John Paul II in 2014, was Chief celebrant, while Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner, and Archbishop Jan Romeo Pawłowski, head of the third section of the Vatican Secretariat of State, which oversees the Holy See’s diplomatic corps, were concelebrants.

Catholic News Agency reports that during the Mass, Pope Francis quoted from the day’s responsorial psalm, which declares that “The Lord loves his people” (Psalm 149:4), saying “And today we can say here: 100 years ago the Lord visited his people, sent a man, prepared him to be a bishop and lead the Church. In memory of St. John Paul II, we take this up again: ‘The Lord loves his people,’ the Lord visited his people, he sent a pastor.”

In his homily, the Roman Pontiff further emphasized the three qualities which made the Pontificate of John Paul II (who was Pope from 1978 to 2005) stand out, as Prayer, Closeness to the people, and Love for justice.

Pope St John Paul II


Pope Francis, extolling the prayer life of St John Paul II, noted that the demands on his time never stopped the Polish Pope from making prayer his priority. He knew that as Bishop, his first task was to pray. Pope Francis added that it was Pope John Paul II who “taught us that when a bishop makes an examination of conscience in the evening he must ask himself: how many hours have I prayed today?”

Closeness to the people

There was hardly anyone Pope John Paul II didn’t touch when he was alive. Many of us remember him as the Pope of our childhood. Pope Francis further recalled that “John Paul II, who made 104 foreign trips during his 27-year pontificate, traveled the world “looking for his people.” He showed all through his life that a shepherd is close to the people. He was not a mere administrator, or a hierarch. Little wonder that millions of people from all works of life trooped in to witness his funeral.


Finally, Pope Francis noted that Pope John Paul II was “a man who wanted justice, social justice, the justice of peoples, justice that drives out wars.” He was also a man of mercy, which was why he championed the message of St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun who promoted the Divine Mercy devotion. 
Providentially, the Catholic Church in Rome (Italy) opens for the first time today, May 18, 2020, since March 9, when all public religious gatherings were put on hold, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

May Pope St John Paul II continue to inspire us to prayer, brotherly love and mercy. Amen.

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