In the shadow of the Vatican, many people were worried after hearing the ageing Pope had been rushed to hospital. One woman said: “I’m really sorry about it. He has done so much. He is a greatly loved person. I’ll pray for him.” Catholic priest Owen Keenan said people were showing great solidarity: “We are here this morning to offer Mass for him and for the church and just to pray for his recovery and to pray as well for all those who are caring for him, his doctors,” he said.
“He has been a huge part of our lives in the church for the last number of years.” In the Pope’s native Poland, the hero of the pro-democracy movement and former president, Lech Walesa, insisted the pontiff might yet surprise the world with his longevity. In Krakow, where the young Karol Wojtyla became a priest in 1946, people lit candles for his health on the Catholic holiday of Candlemas Day.