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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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Giles: Despite the fact that much about St. Giles is shrouded in mystery, we can say that he was one of the most popular saints in the Middle Ages. Likely, he was born in the first half of the seventh century in southeastern France. That is where he built a monastery that became a popular stopping-off point for pilgrims making their way to Compostela in Spain and the Holy Land.<br /><br />In England, many ancient churches and hospitals were dedicated to Giles. One of the sections of the city of Brussels is named after him. In Germany, Giles was included among the so-called 14 Holy Helpers, a popular group of saints to whom people prayed, especially for recovery from disease and for strength at the hour of death. Also among the 14 were Sts. Christopher, Barbara and Blaise. Interestingly, Giles was the only non-martyr among them. Devotion to the "Holy Helpers" was especially strong in parts of Germany and in Hungary and Sweden. Such devotion made his popularity spread. Giles was soon invoked as the patron of the poor and the disabled.<br /><br />The pilgrimage center that once drew so many fell into disrepair some centuries after Giles' death. American Catholic Blog During this month of September, as we celebrate four feasts of Our Lady, let us learn from her: humility, purity, sharing, and thoughtfulness. We will then, like Mary, become holy people, being able to look up and see only Jesus; our light and example will be only Jesus; and we will be able to spread his fragrance everywhere we go. We will flood our souls with his Spirit and so in us, through us, and with us glorify the Father.

The Spirit of Saint Francis

 
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