The John Paul II exhibition in Vatican is a fitting tribute to the man who guided the course of the world during last quarter of the 20th century. The well laid out exhibition shows that JPII, as he is fondly called now, shall continue to live on in the hearts and minds of the people who love him. His powerful influence in shaping the religious, political and social spheres of his time has been well depicted in the exhibition. The important moments from his birth to death, including his decision to choose priesthood, his Episcopal ordination, his papal election, the gun attack, his hundreds of international trips, his death and funeral, are all well depicted through pictures, videos and audio programmes.
The most touching scene is perhaps his last public appearance through the window of his residence in Vatican. Hundreds of thousands of people waited eagerly at St Peter's square for the usual appearance that included a prayer and blessing of their beloved Pope. The people, as usual, came from all continents and every corner of the world. They knew their Pope was not well for quite some time. Perhaps some of them were waiting there to see him for the first time. But there were so many who thought it was their last chance to see their shepherd alive.
The eagerly awaited moment arrived. The Pope appeared at the window of his apartment. He seemed weak, unable to stand straight, but he made an effort nevertheless. He looked at the crowd intently. He painstakingly lifted his right hand and waved at them. But the moment came when he tried to open his mouth and speak a few words to the crowd. No voice could come out of his mouth. He tried, again and again, but he seemed helpless. There was absolute silence in the crowd. All of them focussed their eyes on that one feeble figure. They wanted to hear him. When the voice was not coming, they closed their eyes, most of them shedding tears. As the Pope struggled and could not succeed, the guard removed the microphone stand which was the final indication that they would not be able to hear their shepherd any more.
Watching the scene of that video would surely bring tears to our eyes. But the great Pope, without speaking a word, spoke eloquently to those thousands and all his future admirers. Perhaps this wordless speech of JPII was his most unforgettable one of all. It was his presence that mattered, inspired and charmed millions of people. And through his presence he told them that he loves all, that he cares for all and that he is close to all. It seemed like his farewell speech that assured his flock that he would continue to look down from his heaven where he would be in a matter of a few hours. It was his call to his followers to remain strong in their faith, to continue steadfast in defence of life and never be wanting in bearing witness to the love of their Master Jesus. JPII continues to fascinate, attract and inspire millions today