Burial scroll sums up Pope John Paul’s life in 842 Latin words
By John Thavis
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- It was a daunting challenge: summing up Pope John Paul II's 84-year life and 26-year papacy on a short burial scroll.

Vatican officials did their best, hitting the highlights in only 842 Latin words.

Called a "rogito," the scroll was the Vatican's version of a notarized certificate of burial. It was placed in a tube and deposited in the pope's casket shortly before it was brought to St. Peter's Square for the funeral liturgy.

The document described the early years of Karol Wojtyla, his days as a laborer under Nazi occupation of Poland, his ordination and rise through the hierarchy, his election as pope in 1978 and his major accomplishments and documents.

The scroll began by stating, in a tone that was historical and intimate, the circumstances of the pope's death:

"In the light of Christ risen from the dead, on April 2 in the year of the Lord 2005, at 9:37 p.m., when Saturday was drawing to an end, and we had already entered into the day of the Lord, the eighth day of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, the beloved pastor of the church, John Paul II, passed from this world to the Father. The whole church, especially young people, accompanied his passing in prayer."

The document ended by saying simply:

"John Paul II has left to everyone an admirable witness of piety, of holy living and of universal paternity."

Among his accomplishments as pope, the rogito listed:

-- The "fall of some regimes, to which he himself contributed."

-- The pope's many foreign trips, which "he undertook with the aim of spreading the Gospel."

-- The unprecedented number of papal meetings with "the people of God and the leaders of nations."

-- The launching of World Youth Day celebrations.

-- Dialogue "with the Jews and with representatives of other religions."

-- His expansion of the College of Cardinals, the creation of new dioceses, and the record number of Synods of Bishops convened under his papacy.

-- Reform of the church's Code of Canon Law and reform of the Roman Curia.

-- Promotion of prayer and liturgical spirituality in the Diocese of Rome and throughout the world.

-- Celebration of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and outlining pastoral goals for the new millennium.

-- Convocation of special spiritual years to commemorate the Redemption, Mary and the Eucharist.

-- A record number of canonizations and beatifications.

-- Enrichment and "courageous" promotion of Catholic doctrine, especially through his many documents, including 15 encyclicals, 15 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions, 45 apostolic letters and innumerable speeches, sermons and talks.

-- Promulgation of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church."

The rogito noted that Pope John Paul was the 264th pope.

"His memory remains in the heart of the church and of all humanity," it said.

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