Angelo Ciappelloni heard those words while he stood in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo on April 8, 2005.
With hundreds of thousands of people in the Eternal City, and millions more around the world, he was watching the Requiem Mass of Pope John Paul II.
“‘Follow me’ – this lapidary saying of Christ can be taken as the key to understanding the message which comes to us from the life of our late beloved Pope John Paul II,” then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said in his homily from St. Peter’s Square.
“I was so touched by the profundity and, at the same time, the simplicity of the words,” Ciappelloni said.
“And from there I started down the right path.”
In fact, Ciappelloni’s return to the Catholic faith had its beginning some days prior, on the day of St. John Paul II’s death, he told CNA.
At the beginning of 2005, Ciappelloni, then 47 years old, thought he was “missing nothing” in his life, from a material point of view, he said.
“I had work, a house, friends, loved ones… but nothing that gave me meaning.”
Like many Italians, Ciappelloni had grown up Catholic, but he had abandoned the sacraments and the faith. He had no disrespect for the Catholic Church, but the faith did not interest him, he explained.
“I was not participating in the life of the Church.”
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