If you were alive and over the age of reason, you probably remember where you were fifteen years ago today April 1, 2015. The world stood still for hours as we kept vigil over a man whom the entire world – men and women, young and old, Catholics, Christians, people of different faiths and of no faith – had come to know and love, admire and respect over a period of almost 27 years: Pope John Paul II.
I was working for the Vatican at the time, a writer and editor for the Vatican Information Service, an office within the Holy See Press Office. For years we had been following the ups and downs of John Paul’s health and this truly, really seemed like the end. For days there had not been a scintilla of good news coming from the Apostolic Palace.
I have files and files of personal letters and emails from those days, statistics about Rome and the days leading up to the April 8 funeral, and some of the stories we wrote at VIS. Over the years, when the Holy See Press Office wanted a statement from the then director, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, to be translated into English, they sent the original Italian to VIS where I would quickly translate the text and get it back to Joaquin. When needed, especially for a longer text, I was sometimes joined by a native English-speaking colleague.
And, over the years, with the help of several medical dictionaries, we even achieved a kind of mastery over medical terms when Navarro-Valls, a medical doctor by trade, would send us bulletins about the papal health. These were obviously quite numerous in the last months of John Paul’s life.
Read more at Joan’s Rome