Admittedly a great great man. He visited Philly in 1979 and I was there on Logan Square with a million or so other people. But I was there trying to pick up girls- the other people were a little more idealistic than me. Almost 26 years later, my father's medicine cabinet still holds a vial of holy water that was blessed that day by Pope John Paul II. I wonder how many more of those vials still exist in Philly?
What I remember most about him is that he struck you as one smart, educated and tough son of a gun. He was only in his late 50's and didn't have any sign yet of being weak or old or just another bookish religious academician (you know the type - wheenie professor or scholar). No, this Pope came from the real world. He clawed and fought his way to the top of one of the toughest Catholic leagues in the world (communist Poland). But I don't remember what event or achievement of his was the first evidence he was destined for greatness. Though I thought his great character was revealed when he took the name John Paul II to honor his immediate predessor who died only 33 days after being selected.