03/31/2006, 00.00
JOHN PAUL II – VATICAN
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Benedict XVI and the whole world remember the death of John Paul II

Religious services and events will mark the event in the Vatican and the rest of the world. In Asia, an exhibition and film in Seoul will recall his trips to Korea; an inter-faith meeting will be held in New Delhi and in Manila, youth will come together once again.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – A year ago, tens of thousands of people were gathered in St Peter's Square, desiring to be close to John Paul II in his last hours on this earth. The impressive silence that prevailed among the gathering was broken by the announcement of his death at 9.37, followed by the recital of the rosary. The Marian prayer for the Pope who had the "Totus Tuus" on his coat of arms, dedicated to Mary, will be heard again at the same time and in the same place. This time, it will be Benedict XVI who leads the prayer. The recital of the rosary on the evening of Sunday, 2 April, and Mass celebrated in St Peter's Square, the following day, Monday 3 April, will be the two public events dedicated by Benedict XVI to the first anniversary of the death of John Paul II, which will be commemorated across the world, even by non-Catholics. In the same way that it is not only Catholics who come to the Vatican Grottos, where a pilgrimage of nearly 20,000 people a day proceeds interrupted before his tomb.

At the hour of his death, the historic Sigismund bell of Wawel Cathedral will peal: this is the same bell that rang out on the afternoon of 16 October 1978 to announce to the Poles that one of them had become pope. In the Cathedral where Fr Wojtyla celebrated his first mass and to where he returned whenever he could, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz – secretary to John Paul II since he was archbishop – will celebrate his anniversary mass. Services are also planned in Wadowice, the birth place of Karol Wojtyla.

A special mass for the beatification of John Paul II will be celebrated in the Polish shrine of Lagiewniki, dedicated to the Divine Mercy. Pope Wojtyla had been especially attached to this place since his youth, and he returned there in August 2002 for the dedication of the new shrine. He wanted a day to be dedicated to the Feast of the Divine Mercy, and he died on that day.

In Asia too, defined by John Paul II as "our shared task for the third millennium", special initiatives have been planned, apart from religious celebrations, to recall the great deceased pope.

In Seoul, a photo exhibition and a film broadcast will bring back the visits of John Paul II to the country in 1984 and 1989. In India, in New Delhi, an inter-faith meeting will be held by some human rights organizations in the Siri Fort auditorium, to "gather people of different faiths and social strata" in memory of his voice, "the most important one in the defence of the weak". A youth gathering will be held in Manila, to mark the World Youth Day there in 1995 that saw the participation of around four million people. The event will take place outdoors, in Malate, to recall that the legacy of John Paul II is "the evangelization of youth".

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