Saint John Paul II, We Love You!
As the world witnessed at his death, Pope John Paul II was greatly loved by millions of people, most strikingly by his "carissimi giovanni". Ever since JPII began World Youth Days back in 1986, young people have been coming together in their millions (literally) to be with their Papas at WYD / JMJ.
A favourite chant at these WYDs was 'JP2, We Love You.' Here young (or once young!) people share their stories – what it was about JPII that they love so much, how his life has encouraged them, and which of his words particularly inspire them. For more on beloved John Paul II, click here.
With many thanks to Mike Mangione for the gift of his music.
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Saint John Paul II, Adriano loves you!
37) Adriano, from Brazil:
"John Paul II is a big saint, a great saint, because he opened for us the way for each one of us to holiness. John Paul II showed to each one of us that it's possible to be a saint, and to be saints is to be happy, is to be normal people with happiness in our hearts, because John Paul II lived this in his own life and he showed us that you also can be like that, it's possible."
"St Jean Paul II pour moi est vraiment une grande figure de sainteté. Pour moi, JPII a ouvert vraiment la voie de la sainteté à tout le monde"
San Giovanni Paolo II, Martha ti ama!
36) Martha, di Roma.
"La cosa in cui forse Papa San Giovanni Paolo II piu mi ha aiutato, e sento che mi aiuta ancora, è proprio nell'amore a nostra Madre Maria. E non solo nell'amore, ma in un affidamento totale, in sentirsi un figlio con tutta la tenerezza del figlio piccolo verso una madre vera, fatta di carne e ossa. Ogni volta che lo prego, io chiedo di participare in qualche modo ( del suo amore), di darmi il suo amore a Maria, e sento da lui una spinta a questa fiducia, perché questa è la realta insomma.. E quindi sono molto grata e lo sento ancora molto come padre, e ancora molto vivo."
Saint John Paul II, Alice loves you!
35) Alice, who's 24 & from London:
"John Paul II is a very important saint for me because he was really one of the people that inspired me to become a Catholic (I'm a convert from the Anglican Church). I think when you look at him you can see the joy that the Catholic faith brings, in his humility and his wisdom and also his humour. I think in his love of the arts he just showed to me what it is to be Catholic, that it is so rooted in joy and also rooted in Christ. He obviously had an incredibly difficult life, living under the Nazis and under the Communists, but he really showed what the purpose of life is, in amidst that suffering. He upheld the dignity of people in his country, but also throughout the world. He continued to do that throughout his pontificate, especially in upholding the dignity of the unborn and the very ill. And the end of his life was a witness to that because he was so frail, but just by his example of carrying on in that frailty he showed that everyone is loved by God and everyone is valued. And that was an incredible witness and it really inspired me to throw myself into the Church wholeheartedly."
Saint John Paul II, James loves you!
34) James, who's from England:
"John Paul II the Great was pope throughout my youth and he has had a real big impact in my life. When he died it was like a father had died. He's a real blessing and the fact that he's now canonized, he's a great example for us, for all the young. He had a great love for Our Lady and has been a great inspiration in my journey of faith."
Saint John Paul II, Maria loves you!
33) Maria, who's 36 & from a Polish family in England:
"My whole childhood was very much effected by John Paul II .. We loved him just so much. The most important thing, looking back I think, was his immense love and friendship, which you could see in very concrete ways. He would remember people's names: if he met them once, the next time he saw them he would actually be able to recall names, and match names to faces. That incredible memory of his was, I think, certainly a great gift of love and a way in which his love for people came out. .. He said he wanted to be remembered as the Pope of the Family and I'm sure that will be the case."
Blessed John Paul II, Nicola loves you!
32) Nicola, who's 24 & from England:
"I think John Paul II’s teaching on theology of the body has been one of the most amazing gifts God has given me, and what I love about him is that he was so practical and so down to earth, so focused on what real life is about and what real relationships are like. And his heart for young people as well is something that shines through everything I read and everything I read about him. So I feel like he's really a father to the people, that that was really his vocation as pope and it continues after his death, and as he's in heaven and praying for us, you can feel the fruits are bearing really beautiful things in people's lives and definitely in my own life."
Blessed John Paul II, Sophie loves you!
31) Sophie, who's 23 & from England:
"I have been truly inspired by the love and the life of Pope John Paul II. As a young person, he wasn't especially a Pope that I knew much about but through going to World Youth Days and reading his works, I've been truly inspired. By looking at his life has really helped me in mine; just by his openness to and call to young people has been really inspiring. I will be going with a very large group of students to the canonization of John Paul II in Rome in a month and we're all very excited, and we're all very conscious that through growing through Youth 2000 and World Youth Day and such events, he has inspired us to live the faith and the call to be a saint in every day life."
Blessed John Paul II, Clare loves you!
29) Clare, from Ireland:
"I went to see Pope John Paul II in Galway in 1979, just the summer before I went away to university, We travelled down on a battered old bus from Belfast and it was a bit of a scary journey and we slept overnight in a factory on the floor in sleeping bags and then we made a night-time vigil across to Ballybrit racecourse in Galway. Everybody from the north of Ireland was in the stand and we waited a long time watching, anticipating, waiting to see a helicopter arrive. Then when Pope John Paul arrived, he got out of the helicopter, he got down on the ground and kissed the floor. And then he said 'Young people of Ireland, let's hope that you bring peace.' I have to say at the time the troubles were pretty much at their height and it was an extremely moving occasion and something I've never forgotten for the rest of my life. I think one of the things that was most important about it was that he recognised the effort that had been made by a lot of the young people to come down from the north, because it was a very difficult time, but also the future and perhaps some of the peace that eventually has arrived and hopefully will stay in Northern Ireland, was in the hands of those young people as well."
Blessed John Paul II, Drexil loves you!
28) Drexil, from the Philippines:
"I love John Paul when he did the World Youth Day in the Philippines. It was in 1995 - I really wanted to go but wasn't able to. So I really, really love John Paul. The holiness, I could see in his face the holiness - he was really, really good."
Blessed John Paul II, Nathan loves you!
27) Nathan, who's 18 & from the United States of America:
"Blessed JPII is one of the original men who got me inspired on thinking about my vocation of priesthood ..of actually focusing on what it means to be a Christian, what it means to be a Catholic. … To be able to see that through a man who lived in such a way, saying that he could do the things only through Christ, not through his own strength but through the love of Christ - I aspire to be like him in almost everything I do."
Blessed John Paul II, Sean loves you!
26) Sean, who's 23 & a seminarian from the United States of America:
"Two of the greatest things I’ve really gained from John Paul II is his love for Our Lady - Totus Tuus, Maria - which he took for his papal motto, as well as the love that he had for other people. If you look at any pictures or videos of John Paul II, when he gazes at someone, he doesn't just see them and move on but he looks into the person, and just sees who they truly are and he loves them right in that spot. It doesn't matter if they're a beggar or a rich man, he loves them just where they are. And that comes from the love of Our Lady, because it's Mary who teaches us how to love Christ and it's Mary who teaches us how to love Christ in others. And so John Paul II, being the great lover of Mary that he was, he was able to learn from Mary how to love Christ in other people. This is something that I've gained and that I've learned to love about him, the man, and I think his entire pontificate was one of love. He said 'Open the doors to Christ. Throw open the doors to Christ.' And that's what he did whenever he greeted somebody, he was opening the door to Christ within his own heart and bringing that person in."
Blessed John Paul II, Giorgio loves you!
25) Giorgio, who's 26 & from Rome, gives the reasons for his love for Giovanni Paolo II in English & Italian:
"For me John Paul II was a very generous person and the way he followed the message of Jesus Christ was wonderful. At the end of his life it was very, very sad to see him so suffering but for me that was what God asked him, to put on his shoulders all the suffering of the world."
"Per me Giovanni Paolo II è una dei più grandi personaggi della nostra contemporani .. una grande persona, un grande uomo, per tutto quello che ha fatto, sia dal punto della religione, della fede, sia per la sua presenza nei paesi del terzo mondo. Quando è andato in viaggio nel parti più povere del pianeta, si sentiva proprio la sua vicinanza a lei persone nel piu difficoltà."
Blessed John Paul II, Megan loves you!
23) Megan, from the Seychelles, came to love John Paul II through his teachings. She is so grateful for the witness he offered, encouraging all of us that we all can be saints here on earth: 'And this is the most beautiful thing for us to look up and to aim to be saints.'
"Do not be afraid. Open the doors to Christ." - John Paul II
Blessed John Paul II, Mike loves you!
22) Mike, from London, puts his conversion down to learning about John Paul II's Theology of the Body on a retreat, and then going deeper into this beautiful teaching by reading Christopher West's book on the subject. The quote that Mike finds very powerful, reflecting JPII's very positive, upbeat message is:
"I can only respond to an abyss of evil with an abyss of love." - John Paul II
Blessed John Paul II, Simone loves you!
"What John Paul did was that he showed that the Christian, apart from the fact that he showed that the Christian is somebody who is happy because he was a happy person, you could see that, but also he showed that the Christian is somebody who is free. That's why it was so difficult for people to define him; people would say that he was like this or, you know, one minute he'd be in an incredibly serious theological conversation and the next minute he'd be laughing or singing, and people concerned in the secular world with him as the statesman, him and the fall of communism and so on. But I think for me, while that is obviously hugely important, I think he was the example of what a Christian should be: somebody who loves God and of whom nothing is outside kind of what affects him, 'Nothing truly human fails to move us' he said. And so that for me really meant a lot. I think he was a sort of modern Saint Paul in the sense that he attempted to be all things for all men and he did this with happiness and freedom."
Blessed John Paul II, Br Sean loves you!
"I think in total it was about 4 times that I could meet the Holy Father and the impression I got from John Paul II was of somebody who emitted real sanctity. I think when you saw him coming towards you, and when you went to greet him, although he didn't really say anything to us, he had that sense of holiness about him, and I think that was something that all of us had felt. A highpoint of my time in Rome (I'd lived in Rome for 12 years) was when John Paul II was dying and we could go to St Peter's Square and and pray, when we knew he was dying above in the Apostolic Palace. When it was announced in St Peter's Square to the people who were there that he had died, the Cardinal who had announced is said that when the father dies, the children come and pray, and that's what we really felt when we were there. And we wanted to go to the funeral; we went and visited his body when it was lying in state. And I and another brother managed to get to St Peter's for the funeral and there was a very special time and a really historic time, and occasions like that are occasions which imprint onto your memory for the rest of your life, because we were the generation of John Paul II and he was suddenly gone; and he'd formed us so much. Maybe not consciously that we'd known, but he'd formed the Church which we'd known and it was our sign of gratitude to him that we could be there and be present at his funeral."
Blessed John Paul II, Matthew loves you!
"I know without a doubt now, with hindsight, that John Paul II was there praying for me. Obviously he's a great intercessor for us in heaven and, without me even knowing, he was leading me across the world to find my home in Ireland where I now work with an evangelisation team. He always had a very special place in his heart for all people from all countries: he didn't see the divisions between them, he saw the beauty of each one."
Blessed John Paul II, Erin-Thérèse love you!
18) Erin, who's 1 of the Totus2us team & from the USA, never really knew JPII in his lifetime. It was on pilgrimage to Rome at Easter 2007, when she visited his tomb, that she was first struck by him.
"Man's eternity passes through love." - Karol Wojtyla, from his play The Jeweller's Shop
17) Caecilia, who's 22 & from Germany:
"I love John Paul II very much because he trusted in us young people. You could feel it when you had a meeting with him at World Youth Day .. He loved us so much and he called us to the mission. He said we had big work in the world to tell the people from the Church and from Jesus, 'Jesus is the joy', and give the hearts the joy."
16) Brother Camillus of the Order of St Camillus, who's 86 and from Ireland:
"John Paul was such a wonderful person and he had so much suffering in his early life ..He was left all alone in this world aged 20, but he always dedicated and placed himself under the care of Our Blessed Lady, and he renewed his dedication to Mary Immaculate, his Mother.. I am really privileged to have met him and I shall always be keen to pray to him in the few years that I have left. We must thank God for John Paul, the Great John Paul II."
(Brother Lawrence has a youthfulness of spirit like that of JPII ... so the chance of including his JPII response here threw any thought of an age limit for this podcast out the window .. nor, as it was off-the-cuff, is there a JPII quote)
John Paul II, Lawrence loves you!
15) Lawrence, who's 33 and from the UK, speaks about the great qualities of John Paul II and how the message he was giving was so wonderfully clear and beautiful that it made it very much easier to follow the teachings of Our Lord.
"The future starts today, not tomorrow." - John Paul II
John Paul II, Eric loves you!
14) Eric, who's 23 and from Pennsylvania in the USA, has always thought John Paul II was really cool, without hesitation choosing him for a school paper as the person he'd most like to have dinner with! Eric has recently seen the film Karol which does a fantastic job detailing Karol Wojtyla's early life and all the struggles he lived through. Eric is able to visit JPII's tomb in St Peter's, as he is currently at the Emmanuel School of Evangelization in Rome.
"Happiness means to be rooted in love." - John Paul II
John Paul II, Father Peter loves you!
13) Father Peter, a Marianhill Missionary priest from Zimbabwe, was an altar boy at Mass during Pope John Paul II's trip to Zimbabwe in 1988. Fr Peter speaks here of JPII's leadership: as a spiritual father, as a man of prayer who was deep in contemplation.
"If you want peace, work for justice." - John Paul II
John Paul II, Jan loves you!
12) Jan, who's 31 and from Rome, talks of how John Paul II's words and love have inspired and helped him, and of how reading St Louis de Montfort's 'Devotion to Mary' made him think of Karol Woytyla reading the same book while he was an 'underground' seminarian. Jan, a film maker, has chosen a quote from JP2's Letter to Artists:
"Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savour life and to dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. It stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable terms: “Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!”
Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite Ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, unspeakable joy.
May you be guided and inspired by the mystery of the Risen Christ, whom the Church in these days contemplates with joy. May the Blessed Virgin Mary be with you always: she is the “tota pulchra” portrayed by countless artists, whom Dante contemplates among the splendours of Paradise as “beauty that was joy in the eyes of all the other saints”.
“From chaos there rises the world of the spirit”. These words of Adam Mickiewicz, written at a time of great hardship for his Polish homeland, prompt my hope for you: may your art help to affirm that true beauty which, as a glimmer of the Spirit of God, will transfigure matter, opening the human soul to the sense of the eternal.
John Paul II, Steve loves you!
11) Steve, who's 39 and from America, is the Founder & CEO of Youth in Europe, organising pilgrimages to World Youth Days. He went to World Youth Day Denver in 1993 and his life was dramatically changed by God through the witness of JPII:
"He never lied to us and he never let us down."
"Dear young people, with a spirit of generous self-giving, recognise that you are directly involved in the new evangelization which demands the involvement of all of us. Proclaim Christ who died for all so that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sakes died and was raised up." - Pope John Paul II at WYD Denver 1993
John Paul II, Robert loves you!
10) Robert, who's 27 and from the UK, writes the blog Love Undefiled. His introduction to JPII was when, aged 17, he read the Pope's encyclical Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason). He describes here how this led him to the Catholic Church and picks out some of the moments in JP2's life that have particularly inspired and encouraged him.
John Paul II, James loves you!
9) James, who's 27 and from New Zealand, lists JPII's legacy of the World Youth Day, his devotion to Our Lady, how in his old age he showed how those who are suffering are important, and how he was never afraid to preach the Gospel.
"Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ." - Pope John Paul II, from his 1st address on becoming Pope, 16th October 1978
8) Sr Hyacinthe, 1 of the Totus2us team, is from France & is a Dominican Sister. One of the things she loves most about JPII was his fearlessness, giving the subject of her Masters Degree in History as an example - his role in building a church in Nova Hota. Another reason is because of his teaching, philosophical and theological, particularly about the human person.
"The human person is a good towards which the only proper attitude is love." - Karol Wojtyla from his book Love and Responsibility
John Paul II, Nathan loves you!
"You are young, and the Pope is old .. But the Pope still fully identifies with your hopes and aspirations. Although I have lived through much darkness, under harsh totalitarian regimes, I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of the young. You are our hope, the young are our hope.
Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son." - Pope John Paul II at WYD Toronto 2002
John Paul II, Elaine loves you!
6) Elaine, from Australia, was first introduced to John Paul II when a friend recommended she read his Letter to Women, which deeply impressed her. Then another friend recommended she read his Theology of the Body. She remembers thinking 'Wow. I can't believe it. I've found the meaning to life. This is just incredible.' She just knew it was the truth and wished she'd known about it growing up. One of the many great lessons she learnt from reading lots about John Paul II was his compassion and dignity for all human life.
"True compassion leads to sharing another's pain. It does not kill the person whose suffering we cannot bear." - John Paul II
John Paul II, Marina loves you!
"Do not abandon yourself to despair. We are Easter people and Alleluia is our song." - Pope John Paul II
John Paul II, Ruth loves you!
"Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself."
If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the redemption man becomes newly "expressed" and, in a way, is newly created. He is newly created! "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly - and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being - he must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ." - Pope John Paul II in his 1st encyclical Redemptor Hominis, Redeemer of Man
John Paul II, Kathy loves you!
3) Kathy, who's 17 and from the Philippines, didn't get to know JP2 in his life but, thanks to WYD 2008 got to learn of his teachings on the theology of the body, which has transformed the way she sees things.
"True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement." - JPII
John Paul II, Mili loves you!
2) Mili, from Peru and now living in Australia, describes JP2's amazing apostolic visit to Peru in 1985. Her chosen quote is JPII's response to the young people who'd come to be with him in St Peter's Square in Easter Week 2005:
"I sought you out and now you come to me. Thank you." - JPII
John Paul II, Cassie loves you!
"Peace is not a utopia nor an inaccessible ideal nor an unrealisable dream. War is not an inevitable calamity. Peace is possible." - John Paul II
"From the beginning of my Pontificate, my thoughts, prayers and actions were motivated by one desire: to witness that
Christ, the Good Shepherd, is present and active in his Church.
He is constantly searching for every stray sheep, to lead it back to the sheepfold, to bind up its wounds; he tends the sheep that are weak and sickly and protects those that are strong.
This is why, from the very first day, I have never ceased to urge people:
"Do not be afraid to welcome Christ and accept his power!"
Today I forcefully repeat:
"Open, indeed, open wide the doors to Christ!" Let him guide you! Trust in his love!
Pope John Paul II - Homily at Thanksgiving Mass, 25th anniversary of election to the Pontificate - 16th October 2003