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The final hours of Pope John Paul II

2015-03-31

This was the last time that Pope John Paul II appeared in St. Peter's Square. It was Wednesday, March 30, 2005.

He was very weak and unable to speak. Two months earlier, doctors performed a tracheotomy on him. That was followed by two serious infections.

Locals knew that his hours were numbered. Many decided to spend the night outdoors in Saint Peter's Square to show support and be near him. The end was imminent. Inside his room, the Pope said goodbye to his closest confidants.

JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS
Spokesman, John Paul II 
""It was a silent farewell, there was no need for words. He looked at us in the eyes, everything was already said. It wasn't necessary to try to say anything. The next day, less than 24 hours later, he died.”

On the night of April 2nd, the faithful prayed the rosary under the Pope's window in St. Peter's Square.

When the room's lights were turned on, it became clear that the inevitable had occurred. 

The first official confirmation came a few minutes later.

"May our prayerful silence accompany these first moments of our Holy Father, John Paul II, in Heaven with Christ.”

That's when John Paul II received his first posthumous tribute: an endless applause.

JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS
Spokesman, John Paul II 
"The first prayer recited in the room at the time of his death was not the prayer the Church usually does, which is a prayer for the soul's salvation. No, it was a prayer of gratitude. Naturally, not because of his passing but because of his rich life that ended at that historical moment.”

The next morning, his remains were taken to the Apostolic Palace, so that members of the Roman Curia could pay their respects.

A day later, his body was transferred to St. Peter's Basilica. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims came to give thanks and say farewell.

JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS
Spokesman, John Paul II 
"Less than 24 hours before his death, people began to arrive at St. Peter's Square. It continued to fill up over the following days. At first, Romans came, then from all over Italy. Then people from throughout Europe and around the world came in those days before the funeral and burial of John Paul II.”

The Pope's main collaborator, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, celebrated the funeral Mass in front of dozens of world leaders. Strong winds blowing through St. Peter's Square added to the ceremony's sad mourning.

At the end of Mass, hundreds of people began asking: Would Pope John Paul II be declared a saint soon? Time gave them their answer.


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