At exactly 9:27 pm local time, the Pope was unresponsive. The carmalengo, after having performed the ritual of calling upon his holiness by his Christian name, Carol, 3 times and the light tapping of a silver hammer on the forehead thrice, announced the death of Pope John Paul II. Silence was asked of the people maintaining a vigil at St. Peter's Square while the eerie bells rang, and afterwards, a huge applause was heard throughout the Vatican.
People mourned the death of the great Pope and celebrated his wonderful reign as the symbolical Father of the Church. I have known no other Pope than he, him being the Pope the same time I was born. I have cried this morning when I heard of his death, feeling like I have lost a father whom I have profound respect and cared for deeply. As I'm typing this entry, I'm still shedding a few tears. I may not be the devout Catholic I was when he visited Manila back in 1995 during World Youth Day, but I have always loved the man. I admire him for his strength, his humour, his intelligence, his conviction, and most of all, for his genuine love of people... that he sincerely believed that people are good, capable of doing great things, and capable of being united under one God regardless of religion.
He was known for a lot of "firsts", "mosts" and "greats". He was:
- the most travelled Pope, believed that by using a measuring tape, it equates to him having travelled to the moon and back three times!
- the first none Italian Pope in 450 years
- the youngest Pope in 150 years
- the first Pope to have been into a synagogue... and for apologizing to the Jews for atrocities committed by Christians
- have admonished the pedophile priests tarnishing Christianity in America and all over the world
- have used the media extensively
- have met the most number of political leaders in the World
- have met with other spiritual leaders of different faiths
- have been involved in the destruction of Communism in Eastern Europe
... and so on, and so forth.
It is the end of an era. It will be difficult for the conclave to vote and elect for a new Pope, for no one can be JPII. His brand of Christianity, according to many, has been criticized and perceived as not suited for today's times. He shrugged off all criticisms and soldiered on. He was probably the only Pope that regardless of difference of opinions, people still listen to him and respect him for the man that he is.
He will be sorely missed by Christians and people from other faiths that he has made friends with. He will always have a special place in my heart, the man who has kept a brave face and a serene aura until the day he passed.
He uttered his final words last night (Australian time) and said, "I am aware you are all here for me and I thank you."
We thank you, Pope... may flocks of angels sing thee to thy rest.
I will post a follow up entry on this regarding the voting rituals of the conclave. In the meantime, I mourn...