Pope John Paul II, his closest friend and our encounter

We had been working double time for our Pilgrimage this coming April including the most awaited Canonization of 2 Popes.

I was reading the recent post from Rome Reports, and I noticed that the person closest to John Paul II as it reported was Cardinal Stanislao Dziwisz.  He was Karol Wojtyla’s personal secretary for almost 40 years and just learned recently that he wrote a book My Life with Karol: My 44-year friendship with the Man who became Pope

All of a sudden when I saw his photo I remembered we met him in Israel last year!  We were walking to the old city and the group was already at the Pool of Bethesda when our Franciscan spiritual chaplain, Fr. Adams kept calling us back.  I was the only one who approached him since our guide was already explaining to the group.

He seemed so excited to tell me that there is this Cardinal who I can’t pronounce the name of,  that is there on the same site,  visiting with Polish pilgrims.  He went on further to tell me that if he was not Polish maybe he would have been the same Pope as he was very popular.  So I waited with him then I saw Fr. Adams approach him as if he knew him.  

Fr. Adams with Cardinal Stanislao Dziwisz at the Old City of Jerusalem

Much later he called me to greet the Cardinal and I just followed. I kissed his ring and mentioned we were pilgrims from the Philippines.  He mentioned some Filipino phrase but I cannot recall what right now.  All of a sudden I saw foreign press and Video cameras surrounding us!  That was when I realised that he must really be a famous person!  Unfortunately, my group was far away so no one took my photo 🙂

 The following day  after touring some sites in Jericho we ended up at the Good Shepherd Church, the only Catholic Church that part of town.  While waiting for the people in church to prepare the altar, I decided to step out and have some fresh air.  All of a sudden, what do you know– I see the Cardinal again!  I called everyone to meet him and we all had a picture with the good Cardinal.

Our group with Cardinal Stanislao Dziwisz at the Good Shepherd Church in Jericho

Apparently he also visited this Church and was guest of the Franciscan priests for lunch.

To finally end this post,  what better memory of the soon to be saint, Blessed John Paul II, than this photo and the grace and blessing of receiving communion from him during one Urbi et Orbi or the Easter Sunday Mass at the Vatican.  It is an experience which I will forever cherish – meeting the future Saint! Not once, twice but I guess 5 times in the past.  

Receiving communion from Blessed Pope John Paul II


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