Friday, 29 April 2011

Oh Woe Is Me...!

John Paul II is to be beatified this Sunday.

Many years ago Fr. Richard Whinder gave me a rosary which had been personally blessed by Pope John Paul II. Unfortunately for me, the rosary was swiped from my desk drawer by some little so-and-so. I am now ruefully contemplating the fact that I have lost what was probably a second class relic...

I am able to console myself with the further reflection that I have been in the same room as a Beatus... admittedly it was the Paul VI Audience Chamber, but I was quite near the front... a lot nearer than the photo I've got here...

(And yes, I know that is a photo of Pope Benedict XVI... I couldn't find one of Pope John Paul II in front of that ghastly sculpture... and it was before my digital photography days, so I don't have my own. In fact I was taking proper photos, but I seem to recall that my camera died in the Audience Hall!)

Anyway, I think it was October 2003 (I'm a little hazy on this... it was definitely during a school half term holiday, not a Christmas Easter or Summer one, but I can't remember which... and I might have gotten the year wrong!) I was close enough to observe a very amusing scene. Newly married couples would go up in their wedding regalia to get a blessing from the Pope. The instruction was that they should kneel down on the kneeler provided, get their blessing and walk off.

One bride knelt down but she wanted to touch the Holy Father as well, and held out her hand to him. I saw quite clearly, much to the annoyance of the officials, that the Holy Father responded by reaching out and touching the bride's hand. She was overjoyed, but her spouse had been far more conventional, and had already moved off by this point... so she moved off after him, grabbed him and nipped back to the side of the Holy Father's chair, where both of them got a special blessing as a reward for her perseverance!

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