Thousands of people attended ceremonies around the world yesterday to mark the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. Many more events are planned throughout the week. At 9.37pm Rome time last night, bells rang out in cities across across Poland to mark the moment John Paul II died. An open-air candlelit Mass was held in Warsaw, while crowds in Krakow watched a live broadcast from Rome on a giant screen. Earlier, at a Mass near Krakow, where John Paul served as bishop, Polish President Lech Kaczynski and his wife joined thousands at a Mass in the Divine Mercy sanctuary in Lagiewniki, celebrated by his former secretary, Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz. A large open air Mass was also held in Wadowice, John Paul's home town. Huge crowds gathered in St Peter's Square to mark the anniversary with an evening prayer vigil. Pope Benedict XVI appeared in the window of his apartment, where John Paul died, to bless the crowds gathered below. The Holy Father said the memory of "our beloved John Paul II" was still very much alive: "He continues to be present in our minds and in our hearts. He continues to communicate his love for God and his love for man, he continues to arouse in everyone, especially the young, enthusiasm for goodness and the courage to follow Jesus and his teachings." Pope Benedict also recalled John Paul's pain in the final weeks of his life, saying he had faced his illness with courage and had given suffering "dignity and value."
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