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Blessed John Paul II: Witness to Hope View Comments
By Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.


POPE JOHN PAUL II once described himself as a witness to hope. He was a much beloved one. On May 1, the Sunday after Easter, he will be beatified by Pope Benedict XVI in the presence of an estimated two million people. Billions more may watch the event on television.

The date is hardly coincidental. In 2000, Pope John Paul II designated the Sunday after Easter as the Feast of Divine Mercy when he canonized Sister Faustina Kowalska, to whom he had a great devotion.

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Pat McCloskey, O.F.M., is the Franciscan editor of this publication. Between 1985 and 1992 he worked at the international headquarters of the Order of Friars Minor, primarily as the director of communications. In January 1992 he concelebrated a morning Mass with the pope and several other priests in his private chapel.

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Michael Giedroyc: A life of physical pain and mental torment didn’t prevent Michael Giedroyc from achieving holiness. 
<p>Born near Vilnius, Lithuania, Michael suffered from physical and permanent handicaps from birth. He was a dwarf who had the use of only one foot. Because of his delicate physical condition, his formal education was frequently interrupted. But over time, Michael showed special skills at metalwork. Working with bronze and silver, he created sacred vessels, including chalices.</p><p>He traveled to Kraków, Poland, where he joined the Augustinians. He received permission to live the life of a hermit in a cell adjoining the monastery. There Michael spent his days in prayer, fasted and abstained from all meat and lived to an old age. Though he knew the meaning of suffering throughout his years, his rich spiritual life brought him consolation. Michael’s long life ended in 1485 in Kraków.</p><p>Five hundred years later, Pope John Paul II visited the city and spoke to the faculty of the Pontifical Academy of Theology. The 15th century in Kraków, the pope said, was “the century of saints.” Among those he cited was Blessed Michael Giedroyc.</p> American Catholic Blog The French novelist Leon Bloy once said that there is only one tragedy in life: not to be a saint. It may be that God permits some suffering as the only way to wake someone from a dream of self-sufficiency and illusory happiness.

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