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Pope distributes ashes to doctors in hospital room Mass


Pope John Paul II invited all of his doctors to an Ash Wednesday Mass in his hospital room and personally distributed ashes to them.

The newspaper L'Osservatore Romano said yesterday's liturgy underscored the "spiritual vigor" of the 84-year-old pontiff, who was spending his ninth day in the hospital for flu-related respiratory problems.

Placing ashes on the foreheads of the small group in his room, the pope pronounced the Lenten reminder: "You are dust and to dust you shall return." The pope received ashes from one of the concelebrants.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, papal vicar of Rome, visited the pope later in the day and told reporters, "I found him doing really well." He said the two had discussed the beginning of Lent in the Diocese of Rome.

The cardinal encouraged people to have "full trust" in the pope's recovery.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said on Monday that the pope was eating regularly, sitting in a chair several hours a day and reading some of the hundreds of get-well messages and letters that have poured into the hospital.

The Holy Father also was glancing at the daily newspapers. According to the papal spokesman, the pope said he was doing so "in order to follow the progress of my illness."

SOURCE
Pope distributes ashes to doctors in hospital room Mass (Catholic News Service 6-8/2/05)

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10 Feb 2005