After missing the Sunday Angelus blessing for the first time in his papacy, the seriously ill John Paul II surprised the crowd outside the Gemelli Hospital by appearing at the window and waving to them:
Pope John Paul II has made a surprise appearance at the window of his Rome hospital to wave to people expecting his traditional Sunday blessing.
Sitting on a wheelchair, the Pope made the sign of the cross to bless the faithful even though he did not speak.
I haven’t blogged about John Paul II’s latest illness, mostly because it has received such widespread coverage that anything I say would be redundant. This episode will likely provide no exception. However, I think that it shows why this Pope has attracted so much love and respect from the Catholic faithful. His tenacity helped bring down the Iron Curtain and free millions from tyranny when he had all of his physical stamina, and even an assassin’s bullet could not stop him from stubbornly pursuing God’s will on Earth. For a man who has every excuse to take a day off, his gesture of comfort for the multitudes who have gathered in respect and concern demonstrates those same qualities on a more personal basis.
John Paul II may well be called home soon, but his mission among us will remain as one of the most remarkable of any Pope since the height of the Catholic Church’s political power prior to the Reformation. We Catholics of this age have truly been blessed with his leadership.