Merle Wilberding '69J.D. | Dec. 10, 2013 | Notre Dame Magazine
“Santo subito! Santo subito!” cried the people in St. Peter’s Square on the death of Pope John Paul II in April of 2005. They were urging “sainthood now.” I remember those exuberant shouts, how they seemed to mourn his death yet celebrate his life. I remember them well because his death had rekindled the memory of a special encounter I had with him.
Karol Józef Wojtyla (as he was baptized in 1920) was the first non-Italian Pope in 450 years. His papal persona was refreshing and infectious. He had charisma for the ages, and the vitality of youth as he skied and prayed his way into the hearts of Catholics and non-Catholics all over the world. One of those Catholic hearts was my own.