VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2003 ( John Paul II expressed his gratitude publicly for the prayers and congratulations shown by millions of people worldwide on his 25th anniversary.

"I still feel vividly in my spirit the intense emotions lived these past few days, during which so many people were united to me on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of my pontificate," the Holy Father told the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Angelus.

The Pope renewed his gratitude "above all to God, rich in mercy, for these 25 years of ministry in the service of the Church."

"Moreover, I wish to express my profound gratitude to my Brother Cardinals, Patriarchs, and Bishops, who came in such great numbers to participate in this jubilee celebration, expressing also in this way their sincere communion with the See of Peter," he added.

Before tens of thousands of pilgrims, who were enjoying a pleasant autumn day, the Pope also thanked numerous Heads of State and authorities from many countries for the congratulations sent in recent days.

In a clear but frail voice, the Holy Father said that he had also received testimonies "from Christians of other Confessions, as well as followers of other Religions."

"My heartfelt gratitude to all," he said, reading his address in its entirety. "I am thinking particularly of the sick, who were close to me with the offering of their sufferings," he added.

The Holy Father concluded by renewing the commitment of his life and ministry to the Virgin Mary. "I repeat to her with filial abandonment: "Totus tuus!'"

After praying the Angelus, John Paul II was repeatedly applauded while greeting pilgrims in German, Spanish, and Italian.