Tens of thousands of people clutching candles and rosaries filled St. Peter's Square to mark the first anniversary of Pope John Paul II death. Polish flags fluttered in the breeze, the candles twinkled and a choir sang hymns during an hour long prayer vigil that culminated with a blessing by Pope Benedict XVI at the exact time of John Paul's death at 9:37 p.m. City officials estimated between 100,000 and 150,000 people attend the vigil. During Sunday night's vigil, selections from John Paul's writings, his poetry, books and homilies were read out to the faithful, interspersed with prayers, gospel readings and hymns.
Polish Roman Catholics filled churches in honor of Pope John Paul II and voiced hopes for a quick beatification of the nation's beloved native son. Members of St. Stanislaus church in Rockford came together to remember. Pope John Paul was someone the congregation was very proud of especially since he has polish roots. In memory of Pope John Paul II St. Stanislaus celebrated a holy mass followed by a program commemorating the pope's life. St. Stanislaus has special days when members pray for John Paul. Prayers are said all throughout the year but especially during Polish masses. A lot of Polish people come to the church and believe that he is alive at least in their minds.