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Chillicothe News - Chillicothe, MO
by Antonio Prokup
Pope John Paul II
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By Antonio Prokup
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The square is crowded with people of all ages, races and nationalities.  Groups huddle together talking in their native tongue, waving their country’s flag.  Soon the window will open and a red carpet will be draped over the window ledge.  The thousands of people will silence as their pope appears in the window at his residence at Vatican City in Rome, Italy.  Pope John Paul II.<>
Pope John Paul II is deceased now, but through reputation I feel I know him.  He was the pope when I was little and I remember people always talking about him; Catholics and Protestants alike.  I remember wondering how one man living so far away from the United States could have such an effect over us. I wondered, like so many others, how one man could lead an entire world of followers, and then I saw his face.<>
Pope John Paul II was a small man dressed in long white robes with gold trim called a mozzetta.  He wore a zucchetto, a small skull cap under a miter, a tall white pointed hat.  He wore red leather shoes symbolizing the blood of the martyrs who died, instead of giving up their faith.  On his finger is the fisherman’s ring, that when he died was crushed and buried with him.  When standing or walking he held a long staff as if he were a shepherd guiding his flock through the fields of faith.  He led people by his appearance, but mostly through his actions.<>
His actions, though very slight in his older age, is what impressed me the most.  When he would raise his hand for a blessing, I could feel the caring and compassion oozing from his eyes.  Even though he was bent over in obvious discomfort, he radiated grace with every step.  I could feel his love for his people, and all people, with a single movement of his head.  He truly lived a life of reverence.<>
His presence in the world has made an impact on my life.  I envisioned through Pope John Paul, what Jesus was like when he walked this earth.  I truly felt that Pope John Paul took his vows and leadership role seriously and it showed through every time he spoke.  Every time the ever-changing world brought new complications, Pope John Paul never lost his hope.  Hope is what sustained him and hope is what he gave to me.<>

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