Monday, October 1, 2012
2005 Sede Vacante
For nearly a decade prior to his death in 2005, observers commented on the health of Pope John Paul II, many noting his "frailty" or instances of trembling, which some thought indicated Parkinson's Disease. Yet the Pontiff kept up with his demanding schedule, continuing weekly audiences, trips, and even his 7:30 a.m. Mass with visitors.
On the eve of the Sunday of Divine Mercy, a favorite feast day on the Sunday after Easter, people in the United States heard about the Pope's faltering health and quick decline. By evening in Rome, Pope John Paul II had died, and had accomplished his goal of showing others how to accept the burdens of illness, pain, and approaching death in light of their faith.
After he died, all of the lights from the Papal apartment on the fourth floor of the Apostolic Palace were aglow, suggesting that the Holy Father was still with his flock in spirit.
Over the next week or two, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger eulogized Pope John Paul and said the Papal Funeral Mass. His gracefulness and compassion, say some, convinced some of the papal electors (Cardinals) that Ratzinger was much more than an enforcer of Catholic doctrine, but a priest with compassion who had the potential to become "il Papa."
During the conclave he was elected Pope, and chose the name Benedict XIV, after Saint Benedict, the founder of Western monastiscism, one viewed as keeping alive the Catholic faith in Europe during the Dark Ages. Perhaps Ratzinger saw this as a metaphor for the 21st century,