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Pope enjoys fireworks display

Pope John Paul, at the end of a long day in which he beatified Mother Teresa, made a surprise appearance at his window in St Peter's Square to thank Romans for a spectacular fireworks display in his honour.

"Thank you, beloved Rome," the Pope, who appeared in better shape than he did earlier in the day, said in clear Italian on Sunday.

The fireworks show from the Gianicolo hill near the Vatican lit up the night sky over the city as part of weeklong celebrations marking his 25th anniversary last Thursday as head of the Roman Catholic Church.

The 83-year-old Pope watched from his window in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace overlooking the square and then made his brief address

On Sunday morning, when he beatified Mother Teresa of Calcutta before a crowd of some 300,000 people, the Pope, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, appeared weak and aides had to read his entire sermon for him.

Yesterday he welcomed hundreds of nuns of the Missionaries of Charity order to the Vatican on Monday, telling them at a special audience a day after beatifying Mother Teresa that a life of charity was the true life of a Christian.

He again struggled to get through his remarks, slurring his words and occasionally getting lost in his text. But he did greet dozens of prelates and nuns, and gave a particularly warm welcome to Sister Nirmala, the new superior of the order.

"The message of Mother Teresa, now more than ever, appears like an invitation to everyone," John Paul said. "Her entire existence reminds us that being Christian means being witness to charity."

Mother Teresa, the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner, was particularly beloved by this pope for her life of service to the poor and steadfast adherence to church teaching on opposing contraception and abortion.

"She always spoke out in defence of human life, even when her message was unwelcome," the pope's text said. "Her daily encounters with death, leprosy, AIDS and every kind of human suffering made her a forceful witness to the gospel of life."

As they did on Sunday, the crowd attending Monday's audience applauded whenever John Paul stumbled over his words, encouraging him to continue on.

Associated Press

Fireworks at the Vatican (Independent Catholic News)
A measure of greatness (Commonweal)
A remarkable presence (Commonweal)

21 Oct 2003