05/01/2011, 00.00
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From Vietnam, Korea, Palestine and Israel to greet the new Blessed John Paul II

by Simone Cantarini
Thousands faced long hours of waiting in queues and travel for days just to show their devotion to Pope Wojtyla. Vietnamese pilgrims and Palestinians are asking the new blessed to watch over their countries, victims of violence and war.

Rome (AsiaNews) - "I am asking the new Blessed pope to watch over me and my country, where Christians are living in a difficult situation and are victims of persecution and lack religious freedom". This is Anna a Vietnamese Catholic schoolgirl, who with her friend Mary waited eight hours in line to attend the beatification of John Paul II tells AsiaNews. "We prayed rosaries and prayed all night - she says, deeply moved - we arrived exhausted, but we could not miss such an important event for our lives." Originally from a small village north east of Hanoi Anna and Maria have been studying in Italy for two years and in 2012 and will return to Vietnam. "We are afraid to return to our country - says the girl – we pray to the Blessed John Paul II to 'intercede for us and protect us."

Among the nearly 1.5 million pilgrims in Rome for the beatification, many Catholics are from Asia, who have travelled thousands of miles just to testify along with the rest of the world their common veneration of the new Blessed John Paul II.

This morning, the first to arrive to in St. Peter’s Square were the South Koreans from the Seoul archdiocese, who began to gather in front of the path of Via della conciliazione at around 3.30, waving flags and praying with traditional songs that aroused curiosity 'and amazement among pilgrims. "We want to express our joy for the beatification of Pope John Paul II - one of them said in broken English - John Paul II is 'one of the most' important figures for our Church."

Violet, a Catholic woman from Haifa (Israel) arrived in Rome with a group of 13 Catholics from the Holy Land, Israelis and Palestinians. "I'm here - she says - to bear witness with my presence to a holy man who did so 'much for the Christians of the Holy Land, despite the fatigue of travel and hours of waiting to reach St. Peter’s ". The woman points out the importance of the figure of John Paul II for his life, a source of hope in the midst of difficulty, which 'is not only personal but also for Christians of the Holy Land, who are tested by hatred and violence in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
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