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Roman Catholics to Commemorate Anniversary of Pope John II's Death

The Vatican plans to commemorate the one year anniversary of Pope John II’s death, set for Sunday. The Polish Embassy to the Holy See says it expects around 10,000 visitors from John Paul’s homeland.
( [email protected] ) Apr 01, 2006 10:51 PM EST

The Vatican plans to commemorate the one year anniversary of Pope John II’s death, set for Sunday.

Pilgrims have begun gathering at Pope John’s tomb at Vatican City, to prepare for a Sunday-evening vigil at St. Peter’s Square on the day of his death.

The Polish Embassy to the Holy See says it expects around 10,000 visitors from John Paul’s homeland. City officials estimates 100,000 to 150,000 pilgrims will take part in the anniversary.

Friday, the late pope’s place of birth in Wadowice, Poland, was purchased by a Polish business man, and donated to the Roman Catholic Church.

"The house at 7 Koscielna Street in Wadowice where John Paul II was born was transferred today, March 31, 2006 to the Krakow archdiocese by the Ryszard Krauze foundation," stated the archdiocese in a public brief.

The house, containing a museum bearing processions belonging to John Paul and his family, receives some 5,000 visitors a day. The museum will remain, as wished by original American seller, Ron Balamuth, who inherited the property from his Polish-Jewish ancestors.

The Roman Catholic Church considered canonizing John Paul II. The current pope has the power to "shorten the process," according to prelate Mauro Parmiggiano, who spoke to journalists in Krakow, Saturday. The "Polish Part" for the church tribunal managing the beatification procedure met for the last time in the Polish city, the same day.

All around Poland, people could be seen lighting candles and offering prayers. Many consider the late pope a social reformist, crediting him with setting a chain of events that led to the eventual collapse of communism in Europe.

In Washington, D.C., the John Paul II Cultural Center will hold a series of masses, with an exhibit documenting the pope’s travels.

John Paul II became the first pope in 1986 to visit a synagogue, later praying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem in 2000.

The commemoration will continue Monday, including a mass celebration with the current Pope Benedict XVI.