John Paul II Visits 300th Roman Parish

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2001 ( John Paul II reached another milestone today when he visited the 300th parish in Rome.

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He visited the young parish community of St. Maria Josefa of the Heart of Jesus, located on the eastern outskirts of the city.

Hundreds of people lined the street and applauded the Pope. A musical band performed in front of the church.

Although security precautions were visible, the atmosphere was festive, and the Pope was able to speak with individual parishioners, amid cries of «Viva il Papa!»

On the eve of the visit, the Holy Father sent a letter to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, his vicar in Rome, stating, «If today I can say that I feel fully Roman, it is due, in part, to the visits to parishes of this extraordinary and beautiful city.» Today the Holy Father read the entire letter to the parishioners of St. Maria Josefa.

John Paul II hopes to visit all 334 parishes in Diocese of Rome. «What richness I have seen in these visits!» the Pontiff said during the homily. «Every one of them has been a special occasion for me to give and receive encouragement.»

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