Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pope joked Irish were 'trying to kill him' on first day of trip

CARDINAL Sean Brady revealed yesterday how on the first day of the papal visit, Pope John Paul II

jokingly complained that the Irish were trying to kill him.

Thirty years ago today, the Pontiff began a three-day visit to Ireland, bringing the country to a standstill.

Cardinal Brady recalled: "The Holy Father took on an immense day's work that particular day, September 29, 1979.

He left Vatican City very early, went to Rome airport, arrived at Dublin Airport, went from there to the Nunciature; to the Phoenix Park; down to Drogheda; back to Dublin; toured the streets of Dublin; visited Áras an Uachtaráin and had a couple of other meetings.

"The end result was that the man didn't get sitting down to his dinner until after midnight. He said: 'The Irish are trying to kill me on the first day.'"

Hundreds of thousands flocked to one of the five venues to see Pope John Paul II with their own eyes. Many more sat glued to the TV at home during a visit that exceeded all expectations.

In all, 2.7 million people attended the key events at Dublin's Phoenix Park, Drogheda, Limerick, Knock and Galway.

In the Phoenix Park alone, more than a million people gathered for the first papal Mass in Ireland. They travelled from all over the country, as well as from British cities like Liverpool and Manchester.

Most of the crowd was already in situ when the papal airline flew in over the city and there was a roar of anticipation from a million upturned heads.


Writing in 'Three Days in September' -- a book to mark the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's visit, then-Taoiseach Bertie Ahern recalled the atmosphere: "I still find it hard to give a good pen picture to my daughters of what it was like to see hundreds of thousands of people moving towards the Phoenix Park in the small hours of the morning."

Perhaps the defining moment of the visit occurred in Galway, when Pope John Paul uttered those famous words: "Young people of Ireland, I love you," as he stood on an altar in the middle of Ballybrit racecourse.

The spontaneous and tumultuous applause which followed lasted 10 minutes. The Polish greeting song "Stolat, Stolat" broke out from the sea of faces below him as the pontiff appeared to wipe a tear from his eye. And then the equally unscripted strains of 'He's Got the Whole World in His Hands' became one massive chant.

Then it was on to the Marian Shrine at Knock, which had a special appeal for John Paul II who had a legendary devotion to Our Lady.

He later described that visit as the highlight of his trip.

His final Mass in Limerick seemed to attract the entire population of Munster.

John Paul II was the first and possibly the last superstar pope.

In the 17 years of his pontificate, he made 66 trips outside the Vatican, reaching out to his international flock.

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1 comment:

gta mls listings said...

I agree John Paul II was the superstar pope and most probably the only and last one. I think the Cold war and his origin and his help to fall of the bipolar system was also part of his glory. julia