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Rome Reports

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Key gestures in the life of John Paul II

It took 26 years and 5 months for John Paul II to forever change the way the world saw a Pope. The media recorded every moment of this revolution: From his strong personality and dedication to his more personal side.  -A Smiling Pope April 1989 The Pope definitely wasn't afraid to smile. When this clown performed a skit, he couldn't help but laugh. It was a known fact that he had a great sense of humor and also that he loved theater and sports.  -Athletic Pope  Exercising was much more than just a hobby. He was the youngest Pope of have ever been elected in the 20th century and exercise was quite important to him. From going up to stairs to covering two full steps at a time. At least once he left the Vatican incognito, to go skiing and hiking. It was a place where he could clear his mind and meditate.  -Sweet When it comes to moving moments, there's plenty to choose from. He wouldn't shy away from giving hugs, like this one, with a Bolivian mine-worker.  May 11, 1988 Oruru (Bolivia) "We miners want you to wear this helmet so you can become a miner, just like us. We believe in God, Holy Father.â? -Tough  But just as easily, the Pope also showed his strong character, frustration and even anger.  1983 Nicaragua Perhaps the most memorable public moment was when Nicaraguan priest, Ernesto Cardinal was scolded by the Pope, as he knelt down and kissed his hand. The priest had become involved with the Sandinista government which tried to limit the role of the Catholic Church in that country.  -Forgiveness  One of the moments that marked his pontificate was when he met and forgave the man who tried to kill him back on May 13th, 1981.  Not only did the Pope forgive Ali Agca, he also met with his mother in 1996, when she asked him to support her son's amnesty request.   -Asking for Forgiveness  He started the New Millennium with a one of a kind ceremony. In the year 2000, he led Mass at St Peter's Basilica, where he asked God to forgive the Church for all the sins it had carried out in history. From the Inquisition or the persecution of Jews.  During his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, he left a prayer petition in the Wailing Wall, where he also asked for forgiveness. The document is now part of the Holocaust Museum. -Embrace  John Paul II showed compassion and understanding. He was Pontiff for almost 27 years. With more than 200 trips throughout the world, he hugged thousands of people along the way.  One of those unforgettable moments was when he blessed a former prostitute with AIDS in the 2000 Jubilee. -Old Friends  Just like any other person, John Paul II had friends. One of them was a woman he used to share the spot light with in plays. Over the years, they remained friends, even when Karol Wojtyla was ordained priest and eventually became Pope. -A Living Testimony As he got older, it was harder for him to walk and even talk...Still, he kept that deep connection with the youth. During his last trip to Spain in 2003, he had a touching conversation with the young crowd.  JOHN PAUL II May 3, 2003. Madrid (Spain) "So...How old is the Pope? Almost... A young 83 year-old! -Last Message  Eventually, age and illness took over the energetic and strong John Paul II... Still, he continued to travel the world, never hiding his limits from the eyes of the world. His strongest message was perhaps his life: A silent cry that moved forward, and echoed in the hearts of thousands of people. JRB RR - -PR Up: