I don't usually share this photo with people.
I think only my mother and grandparents have seen it.
My eyes still fill with tears.
This is yours truly with Pope St. John Paul II in the Apostolic Palace of the
Vatican on the morning of January 5, 1999.
Overcome with emotion, I was
Words cannot express.
He was the greatest man of the twentieth century. Everything had been taken from him, except his Faith. He lost his mother, father, siblings, nation, freedom.
If you want to understand him, make a visit to the Wawel, located in the center of Europe, atop a hill with a gentle slope in Krakow, Poland. Then know something of Polish history and philology and glory.
He practiced mental prayer. It would do us all good to read the lives of the saints and to practice mental prayer.
He said to me: "Where are you from? Happy New Year!"
It was the greatest moment of my life.
A powerful intercessor.
I was the last to exit the private chapel after Holy Mass. We had been in the front row. As I walked around him to leave, I paused in the aisle and looked back. Standing in the chapel, for however brief a moment, it was just him and me. The most impressionable moment of my life. He was making his thanksgiving after Mass, kneeling on the prie-dieu. Nobody else in the chapel but us. I looked up at the tabernacle to Christ. From my vision was Christ, the Vicar of Christ, and myself. I felt extremely humbled and still do to this very day.
It was his presence and words at WYD 1993 in Denver that lit the match for me. He was there and he cared. He confirmed us in the Faith. O, Blessed Peter the Roman! A golden nimbus will now grace is head: corona aurea super caput eius!
Photo credit: Arturo Mari.