Italian Leader Keeps Appointment With John Paul II

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 29, 2005 ( The president of Italy had an appointment with Pope John Paul II, and he kept it by making a special trip to pray at his tomb.

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John Paul II had been scheduled to visit Carlo Ciampi in his official residence, the Quirinal Palace, today, the feast of St. Catherine of Siena, patroness of Italy.

The Holy See announced the Pope’s intentions on Feb. 18. But he died April 2.

Instead, Ciampi and his wife, Franca, were the ones who went to visit the Pope early this morning as pilgrims.

John Paul II and Ciampi had been friends for a while. Both were born in 1920, and they share the same name day, St. Charles, celebrated Nov. 4. On this day they would call each other on the telephone.

After their first meeting in 1993, when Ciampi was Italy’s prime minister, they met 11 times, but never in the Quirinal.

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