People close to John Paul II, John XXIII share anecdotes

Posted at 04/26/14 10:29 AM

VATICAN CITY - The people who have known the two popes--John Paul II and John XXIII--are as much part of the canonization as the pontiffs being recognized.

The private secretary of Pope John Paul II had the privilege of living 39 years with the saint. Twelve years were spent in Krakow, Poland, and the remaining years in Rome.

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow said Pope John Paul II was very prayerful. He had tremendous devotion to praying to the Holy Spirit, the adoration sacrament, and the rosary.

He loved children and the young people.

"He loved young people. He heard their voices. He chose to walk with them and we must accompany them, especially if they have questions. And he tried to answer those questions... each country that he visited, he would find an opportunity to meet with the young people. They were the future and they were his," the Cardinal said.

In 1984, Pope John Paul II initiated the World Youth Day, an event organized for the young people.

It was during the World Youth Day in Manila in 1995 that Ambassador to the Holy See Mercy Tuason met the pope once again.

"He's so nice and he's so humble the same as Pope Francis. Talagang he's really for the poor," said Tuason.

Cardinal Orlando Quevedo said the pope was fond of the Philippines.

"He had a special love for the Philippines such that when he would see Filipino bishops and when he sees Filipinos in the general audience, he would say 'Mabuhay'," Quevedo said.

Cardinal Quevedo also shared an anecdote that always makes him smile.

"He said to me the first time he met me as a bishop, 'You look very young.' and I said to him, 'It's your fault, Holy Father. You were the one who appointed me'. And he laughed because of that," he said.

The Cardinal from Mindanao has also witnessed how the ailing Pope John Paul II carried out his papal duties unreservedly when he was already very ill.

"We visited him and I was with the group beside him, and he was already suffering, and I was scared when he began coughing and coughing. I thought he would collapse. But he made it through his speech, and I know that through his suffering, he would remember all the people suffering in the world, especially those victims of natural disasters in the Philippines," he said.

On Sunday, two popular pontiffs will be made saints. What makes the occasion extraordinary for many ordinary people is the fact that they can claim they knew the two popular popes in their lifetime.

One of those ordinary people is the butler of John XXIII who can share many good stories about 'Il Papa Bouno' or the good Pope John and a former personal secretary, Cardinal Loris Capovilla.

"He was 81 years old when he died. 81 years and six months, but I was a witness, and I didn't see an old man die. I watched a child who died with a smile on his face. He lived humbly, he loved simply," he said.