Faithful Gathered to Pray With Dying Pope

John Paul II Followed Vigil From Bed

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ROME, APRIL 2, 2005 ( John Paul II continued to attract large crowds, and receive the prayers and devotion of the faithful up to the last moments of his papacy.

Since the Pope’s grave health conditions were made known Thursday, St. Peter’s Square has been filled with pilgrims, especially young people, wishing to visit and pray for the Pope.

The atmosphere in the square on Friday night was one of recollection and prayer. John Paul II, fully conscious, followed the prayer vigil from his bed.

«The Pope has shown the world what Poland is, how much his country has suffered and resisted, like him and us, who do not surrender,» explained a Polish woman named Agatha to ZENIT.

Agatha was accompanied by her mother, Zenobia, who came from Poland «to see, at least, the Pope’s windows,» her husband and four-month old daughter.

Massimo Salata, a relative of Pope John XXIII, was also in the square on Friday night with his family. «We have come here many other times; he has been a great Pope,» his mother said.

Slovakian journalist Jaro Barborak, told ZENIT that «the Pope is Polish and, therefore, a Slovak, like us. We Slovaks feel he is one of our own.» Barbarok said that for days the whole of Slovakia was united in prayer to support him spiritually.

Five young Carmelite nuns, who hurried to arrive on time for the Rosary, did not wish to speak because, they explained, «now silence is better.»

Although there were more than 60,000 people in St. Peter’s Square on Friday night, the mobile first aid unit told ZENIT that there was only one person who had needed assistance. «Everything is calm,» they said, without hiding their concern for the Pope.

After the recitation of the Rosary, Polish Teresa Tyrala carried a lit candle. «This is how we pray in Poland,» she said. Her eyes were fixed on the Pope’s window.

For seminarian Daniel Lournguiya of the Consolata Missionaries of Kenya, «the Pope has been a good Christian because of everything he has taught with his simplicity.»

The student of the Gregorian University said that the Pope has taught him «to continue working with suffering, without stopping when there are problems.»

Deacon Godfrey Msumange, Consolata missionary from Tanzania, told ZENIT that he sees the Pope «as a grandfather, and for us grandfathers are the head of the family, who make use of their experience of faith and transmit it with love.»

Msumange, a student of moral theology, added that «John Paul II has taught us not to be afraid to express our faith to the world.»

Students gathered on Saturday in the St. Lawrence Center’s church in the Vatican, to spend time in Eucharistic adoration, sing and pray.

«The Pope is the pastor of young people,» said young Father Adrien Bayer of Vienna. «From the beginning of his pontificate he has encouraged young people to meet with Jesus and to enter the Church,» he added.

Father Bayer, who is in Rome for three months attending Emmanuel Community’s mission school, said that the «heart» of the Pope’s «message has been Christ and a whole generation has received his influence.»

Marie-Pierre, a young woman of Belgium’s Emmanuel Community explained to ZENIT that the Pope’s last words to young people were «very significant for me, and I would have liked to have told the Pope that he has been very important for us young people, as he has given his life for us.»

The young Belgian was very happy to see «the presence of thousands of young people in the Square.» This is «the last joy of the Pope.»

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