Audience cancelled, but Pope blesses crowd from window
Although the Vatican announced the cancellation of Pope John Paul II's general audience scheduled for yesterday, the pilgrims came anyway and were rewarded with a brief appearance by the Holy Father.
Catholic News Service reports that large groups from Poland, Spain, Mexico and Italy staked themselves out in St Peter's Square early yesterday, unfurled their banners, waved their flags, and sang hymns in their respective languages.
A written announcement in Italian flashed onto four large video screens installed before Holy Week in the square: "The Holy Father will come to his studio window at 11:00 to bless the faithful."
As the news spread, the crowd in the square slowly grew.
A huge roar of applause and cheers rose up when the fifth-floor window of the pope's residence opened a few minutes before 11:00 am, but it was a false alarm: It was the pope's valet and assistant secretary who poked their heads out to hang the red papal tapestry outside the window.
The singing and chanting grew stronger as the people waited. Then at 11:13 a.m., the curtains parted, the pope appeared and, looking determined, blessed the crowd.
His appearance lasted less than a minute, but it was enough to move many to tears.
For the first time in his pontificate, Pope John Paul is skipping most Holy Week and Easter activities. He is still convalescing from the 24 February tracheotomy he underwent to ease breathing difficulties brought on by the flu.
No weekly general audience, but pope blesses crowd from his window (Catholic News Service 23/3/05)
Fresh doubts about Pope's health (CathNews 23/3/05)
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Pope marks anniversary of Gaudium et Spes (CathNews 18/3/05)
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Pope returns home from hospital (CathNews 14/3/05)
Pell says distance creates Australian uncertainty about Pope's health (CathNews 14/3/05)
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64% in US use Internet for religious reasons (CathNews 19/5/04)
Pope says truth in media serves cause of peace (CathNews 26/3/03)
Pope doesn't conduct Mass but waves from his window (USA Today/Yahoo 21/3/05)
A moved Pope appears and blesses the faithful (AsiaNews.it 23/3/05)
Pope makes brief appearance from window (Catholic News Agency 23/3/05)
Poll finds American's morals increasingly influenced by the Pope (Catholic News Agency 23/3/05)
Pope Appears, But Does Not Speak (Associated Press/CBS 23/3/05)
Pope Blesses Crowd From His Studio Window (The Guardian/Associated Press 23/3/05)
Pope not responding too well to medications (keralanext.com 23/3/05)
Pope blesses the faithful in St. Peter's (Missionary Service News Agency 23/3/05)
Pope blesses crowd from open window (Australian Associated Press/Sydney Morning Herald 23/3/05)
Pope's slow recovery clouds Easter run-up (Sydney Morning Herald 24/3/05)
Pope blesses faithful from his study window (Vatican Information Service 23/3/05)
No General Audience on Wednesday (Zenit 22/3/05)
24 Mar 2005