John Paul II and the Icon of Mother Perpetual Help

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A brief recollection of Danilo P. Bissaco from the Province of Rome

Let me describe this incident to you. On May 18, 1979 I attended the Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. The Prefect of the Papal Household offered me a place near the barrier where the Pope would pass.

I had come from Marzocca (Ancona) and had brought a handmade painting of our Mother of Perpetual Help to be placed in the new parish church dedicated to St. Anthony of Padua, built because the previous one had been ruined by an earthquake and other factors. Pope John Paul II, on his birthday, greeted me and some young men who were with me, and asked where I had come from. In the meantime I had placed the painting of our Mother of Perpetual Help over the barrier to ask for a blessing.

The Pope recollected himself in profound meditation before the painting and did not move or speak to me. I turned all shades of red. Finally, after several minutes, he blessed the painting of our Mother of Perpetual Help and greeted me again. I kissed his hand. When the Pope’s book, “The priesthood: gift and a mystery,” was published for the 50th anniversary of his priesthood, I discovered why he remained so long in prayer before the icon of our Mother of Perpetual Help.

Before this picture, at Wadowice, his vocation had matured. This was the first time the Pope had encountered this painting in Rome and on his birthday! Unfortunately I have not thought about this incident and I do not know if there are any photos. To me this seems worthy of being known.

Cordial greetings,

Fr. Danilo Bissacco, CSsR

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