Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "Asia. This is our common task for the third millennium, "wrote John Paul II in his book "Rise, Let us be on our Way". And today revealed how this pope was in turn essential for Catholics in Asia. Because in an attempt to find- with great difficulty - even a small space from which to witness the beatification ceremony, what struck the most was the many, many different languages and diverse features, each one unique. A riot of colours surrounding St Peter’s Square, Via della Conciliazione, Castel S. Angelo, Corso Vittorio Emanuele and small side streets, crammed with people from all over the world. A sea of umbrellas to shelter from the scorching sun, banners, young volunteers who were handing out free water bottles and fruit, children on their father’s shoulders to catch a better glimpse. Despite the weariness of the long wait and the heat, their eyes were always alert. Young people, in particular, and families. The legacy left by Pope John Paul II, beatified today, is immense.
It was difficult to move through the throngs of people. A score of Catholics from Singapore arrived at 7 in the morning. "Since the process of beatification began, I wanted to be here today," said one lady. "I met Pope John Paul II for the first time - she remembers - when he came to Singapore in 1986. When I saw him, I felt a deep sense of contentment". She's tired, but her voice is full of enthusiasm. "The greatest legacy of this pope - she says - is his message of love to all, especially to younger people. He always told young people to be vigilant, to have patience and be able to face all the difficulties and problems that life puts in our path. I taught for 37 years. Now I am retired but still working in education: I can say with joy that the young witness with their lives that they understand and accept his message. "
During his pontificate, John Paul II made many trips to Asia. In 1984 he was in Thailand. One young girl was there welcome him, among many. Today she is a grown woman, who came here to Rome to witness the Blessed pope. "His greatest teaching for me is his love for others and care for each other. Because it was what he did with people, especially children, "she says. She adds, with certainty: "He was a gentle man and a true saint on earth."
There were also numerous groups from the Philippines, the largest Christian majority Asian nation (94% of the population, of these 81% are Catholics). Couples, singles, families. Many participated in World Youth Day in Manila in 1995. All said they were "happy" that the beatification of John Paul II had taken place.
"Because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!" Proclaims Pope Benedict XVI at 11.15. And the screams and applause of the crowd who had come here today from all over the world gathered up his inheritance.