A tribute to the two new saints

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By Mark Vargas


Wednesday, April 30, 2014

BACOLOD City is truly blessed because Saint John Paul II came here on February 20, 1981.

I was a third year student in La Consolacion College in Bacolod and we went to the Bacolod Reclamation Area carrying flaglets to show our love and respect to Pope John Paul II.

When I went home, I heard my late Dad (Romeo “Bobby” Vargas) who was then the mayor of Ilog town, talking to my Mom that he was happy for being the third person on that day to kiss the ring of the Holy See (after former First Lady Imelda Marcos and Tito Jun Montelibano, then the governor).


St. John Paul II was an amazing man, priest, bishop, cardinal, pope and now saint.

The beloved pope had received his call to the priesthood when he once caught his father praying alone during the night on his knees.

Born Karol Józef Wojtyla, John Paul II was elected Pope on October 16, 1978. October 16 is the feast of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the famous saint who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is appropriate since Divine Mercy devotion is a further flowering of devotion to the Sacred Heart.

The new saint is fluent in several languages. He could speak in Latin fluently and he can converse in Slovak, Russian, English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Ukranian and of course his native Polish.

He was the first Pope to have visited the White House in the US.
He was one of the most travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate, the most of any pope ever.

As a pope, he had the distinction of having gathered the most number of crowd in one spot, and this was in the Philippines in 1995 during the celebration of World Youth Day with an estimated 5 million people.

St. John Paul II was shot on May 13, 1981, the anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s First Apparition. He visited the man who shot him in prison and forgave him (what a saintly deed!)

He died in 2005 and as I watched his funeral on cable TV, I cried a lot as I was so touched by his saintly life.

On the other hand, St. John XXII (born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli) was elected pope on Oct. 28, 1958 at age 76 after 11 ballots. His selection was unexpected, and Roncalli himself had come to Rome with a return train ticket to Venice.

Pope John XXIII surprised those who expected him to be a caretaker pope by calling the historic Second Vatican Council (1962–65). His passionate views on equality were summed up in his famous statement: 'We were all made in God's image, and thus, we are all Godly alike.'

John XXIII made many passionate speeches during his pontificate, one of which was on the day that he announced the Second Vatican Council in the middle of the night to the crowd gathered in St. Peter's Square: "Dear children, returning home, you will find children: give your children a caress and say: This is the caress of the Pope!"

In Bacolod, the John Paul II National Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family led the celebration dubbed “A Festival of New Saints” to honor the canonization of the two new saints.

Msgr. Victorino Rivas, director of the JP Institute, said the mother Church in Rome has ordered the Diocese of Bacolod to celebrate the canonization of the two saints.

The canonization at the St. Peter’s Square was beamed live on two giant screens at the Bacolod public plaza. Afterwards, a concert was held featuring GMA Kapuso stars Jennylin Mercado and Julie Anne San Jose, as well as local artists like Kulay Picata, the Jean-Baptiste Dance Company of USLS, the Ching Alcala Dance Fitness Studio, the RamDiz singers, and Johann Tan.

The two beloved popes were praying for us during their last days. St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII, pray for us.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on April 30, 2014.


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