The holiness of papal saints

‘Holiness, a message that convinces without the need for words, is the living reflection of the face of Christ’. Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte (At the Beginning of the New Millennium).

These words have always appealed to me, challenged me and inspired me to try to be a ‘living reflection of the face of Christ’.

I suppose they are words that we could use to describe a saint.

I am sure that when John Paul wrote them in 2001, he would not have dreamed that just a little over 13 years later he would be one of the canonised saints of the church.

On Sunday, two popes of our time will be declared saints, Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II.

In that same letter John Paul wrote of holiness: ‘Holiness, whether ascribed to popes well known to history or to humble lay and religious figures from one continent to another of the globe, has emerged more clearly as the dimension which expresses best the mystery  of the church’ (NMI 7).

Both popes are being recognised for their holiness and for their incredible contribution to the church.

It is their holiness that tells us something about the church, as does the holiness of people from our families, friends and wonderful devoted and prayerful parishioners. Continue reading.

Archbishop John Dew is archbishop of Wellington, and President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops’ Conference.


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