Santo subito! So read the pilgrims’ banners at St. Peter’s Square in Rome, on April 8, 2005. It was the day of the Funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II. Millions gathered in the Square for the Funeral, including President Bush, and many other national and religious leaders. I was one of the hundreds of millions (if not more) who watched it on TV. I was in my second year of studies at St. Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, PA. I woke up at 4 or 5 A.M., and gathered with some of my fellow seminarians to pray for this most extraordinary man, now on his journey back to God.
Santo subito translates into English as “Sainthood now!” ” or “Sudden Sainthood!”. The pilgrims in the Square thought that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who celebrated and preached the funeral Mass (and is now Pope Benedict XVI!) should declare John Paul a saint on the spot.
I would have agreed! Here was a man who served as a “vocation director from a distance” for me. He was a model priest, bishop, Christian. Most priests from my generation count him as a witness and an inspiration.
And now, it is indeed “Santo subito” time for John Paul II! He will be beatified by Pope Benedict on May 1st of this year. Beatification is the last step to Sainthood. He will now be known as Blessed John Paul II. We rejoice! If you are younger, and have no personal memories of John Paul, please check out this talk by him about his priestly vocation.
Get to know him (and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta). The saints are our best friends on the road to Christ. May there be banners at our funeral Mass, that say about us, “Santo subito!” – although it will probably be in English, right?
Safe travels to all who are travelling to the March for Life in Washington, D.C. this upcoming weekend. I will be walking with the people of St. Michael’s Parish in Greenville. God bless!