beatification of Pope John Paul II

Rome is bound to be in gridlock today due to the ceremony taking place for the fast-track beatification of Pope John Paul. Thousands of pilgrims have poured into St Peters’s Square, many having walked from Poland.

My most vivid memory of Pope John Paul was when he was shot by Ali Ağca in 1981, incidentally just six months after John Lennon’s shooting. I had just arrived in Rome and the whole of Italy could talk of nothing else for weeks afterwards.