On March 19, 1983, Pope John Paul II, the 264th pope of the Catholic Church and bishop of Rome, 6th ruler of the Vatican City State, born Karol Josef Wojtyla on May 18, 1920, elected on October 16, 1978, died in Rome on April 2, 2005 at the age of 84, he was welcomed in the city of Termoli and thus it was the first time of a non-Italian Pope in Molise.
On the same day but in the year 1995, Agnone too had the honour, thanks to the Vatican Prefect, Marinelli, of granting hospitality to a Pope already traumatized by pain and illness. The Pope of the struggles against political oppression was one of the architects of the collapse of the systems of real socialism.
He disapproved of liberation theology, stigmatizing unbridled capitalism and consumerism, antithetical to the pursuit of social justice. Conservative in the field of morals, he was the traveler Pope par excellence with his 104 trips around the world. He created the World Youth Days, designing a solid bridge, not like the one you want to build over the strait at seismic risk, in the name of ecumenism.
Awarded the recognition of honorary Globetrotters, in the 2000 hearing when he received the Harlem Globetrotters, one of his trips saw him protagonist in that of Termoli, in the era of Di Giandomenico, another mayor of the city of Termoli with unparalleled longevity.
“Our generation carves the image and face of Your Holiness in its heart, future generations, reading the name of John Paul II imprinted in the neighborhood and in the large square where the Holy Eucharist will soon be celebrated, will have the certainty of this historic event and the comfort to walk more and more on the path of truth, justice and peace”. Thus, the then mayor of Termoli Remo Di Giandomenico welcomed Pope John Paul II in the port, as soon as he got off the helicopter.
It was the early afternoon of a day that since the morning he observed himself from the eyes of the sky, dressed up for the party. The excitement and palpitation for the Pope’s arrival began days before with the preparations. The port was dressed in yellow, the streets in the colors of peace. So Pope Wojtyla was welcomed by thousands of people gathered on the city’s quay to follow the visit that went down in history not only of the Adriatic city but of the entire region.
The Holy Father in visiting the Borgo Antico, before entering the Bishopric ruled by the bishop of Termoli-Larino Ruppi, was enthusiastic about it for the beauty and composure of the faithful who followed his journey. He was cheered joyfully when he looked out of the window of the seat of the Bishopric.
“This visit of mine also wants to be a stimulus and an encouragement for an ever more conscious and effective commitment in order to bring an appropriate and urgent solution to the many problems that go by the name of the Social Question of the South” the words of Pope Wojtyla that afternoon. In visiting the Cathedral the emotion was visible and the exclamation of wonder was not long in coming. Then running to the square built in his honor, to seal his visit, for the solemn mass.
The weeping and satisfaction of the people was a sweet note that stopped the music and made it eligible for heaven. Mayor Di Giandomenico could not bear the emotion and poured out lexicon and music in his speech so much that he would not remember it in the future.
He said what was dictated from the heart and the heart of the entire community of Termoli acted as a bass drum. In the evening she was about to give way to night, tears broken by the emotionally free joy of expressing happiness without inhibition, took over. That “sea of people” greeted him before leaving, marking the day in the annals of the city and of the entire region.
“Long live the Pope” can still be heard arriving in Piazza Paolo Giovanni II. On March 19, 1995 it was the same for the many faithful who flocked to Agnone. At the gentle sound of bells, the Pope, rejoicing at the warmly noisy welcome, knelt down smiling and blessed the industrious people of Altomolisana declaring himself “happy”. Termoli and Agnone on the same day, on St. Joseph’s day, thus consecrate their friendship in the wake of the gift offered by a Holy Father, who made history and who not even that bare coffin and the whip of the wind could erase the words who in his Pontificate humbled the arrogant and hardworking of God, the infamous serial haters.
Photo by BC Foto and Bruno Caserio