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Thousands mark first anniversary of death of John Paul II

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Thousands mark first anniversary of death of John Paul II

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Tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican on Sunday for a special ceremony to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. They came mainly from the late Pope’s native Poland, from the United States, Asia and Italy.

At 1937 GMT, the exact time that Karol Wojtyla died on April 2, 2005, his successor Benedict XVI blessed the crowd and gave an address. He was standing on the balcony of the apartment where John Paul passed away. During the day, many had queued for hours to visit the late pontiff’s tomb in St Peter’s Basilica. Last May, Pope Benedict put his predecessor on the fast track to sainthood by dispensing with church rules that normally impose a five-year waiting period after a candidate’s death.