John Paul II was the most traveled pope in history, visiting some 129 countries. On a 1979 trip to the United States, one of his stops was in Boston.
It was on these trips that his love for the people was most apparent. While the trips must have been physically grueling, John Paul made every effort to get as close to the people as possible. That desire for contact nearly cost him his life when, in 1981 he was shot and wounded by Mehmet Ali Agca in St. Peter’s Square.
In 2001, Fran Landry, a page designer for The Eagle-Tribune, took part in a papal audience with John Paul II, an event she credits with helping her to quit smoking. Landry had painted a portrait of John Paul and presented it to the pope. For years a photo was displayed in a corridor of our offices of John Paul receiving Landry’s portrait -- and a copy of The Eagle-Tribune.
The love John Paul II had for his flock was returned many times over. On his death in 2005, crowds filled St. Peter’s Square chanting “Santo subito!” Saint now!
Today, that demand of the Catholic faithful was fulfilled.