DENVER - Pope John Paul II is set to become a saint in a ceremony expected to be held later this year. Pope Francis approved a miracle that is needed in order to canonize Pope John Paul II.
While becoming a saint will cement Pope John Paul II's legacy to the world, his significance will likely never be lost in Colorado.
Pope John Paul II visited Colorado in 1993 as part of World Youth Day. He spoke before thousands at Mile High Stadium and Cherry Creek State Park. The Pope also met with then President Bill Clinton on the campus of Regis University.
"It was positively electric and it was a beautiful day," said Karen Webber, vice president for administration at Regis University.
Webber was among those lucky enough to witness the Pope's historic meeting with President Clinton at Regis University. She was struck by the Pope's humility.
"When he shook my hand he asked me, 'are you a teacher? Are you a student?' I was kind of dumb struck, and I said 'no I'm really nothing.' He just laughed and smiled and patted my hand," Webber said.
Pope John Paul II saw the importance in everyone. He had an ability to connect with everyone when speaking before an audience of thousands and when meeting with individuals, especially children he displayed a remarkable compassion.
"He had such a unique ability to engage personally with everyone he met and you walked away with a sense, not only of his personal magnetism but you were in the presence of a very special and holy man," said Tom Reynolds, vice president for mission and planning at Regis University.
Pope John Paul II also played a major role as a world leader. During World War II, as a young man growing up in Poland, he worked to protect Jews from Nazi persecution. After becoming Pope, he pushed for the end of communism in Eastern Europe.
"I think his legacy is that he is a bridge person," said Steve Jacobs, assistant provost for Regis University. "I think he was very much a man committed to social justice, peacemaking and I think that is partly what enamored other leaders to be drawn to him."
Pope John Paul II's visit to World Youth Day twenty years ago forever connected him to Colorado. Those who had the opportunity to be in his presence are not surprised Pope John Paul II is about to become a saint.
"I know it is going to be a very thorough and careful process, but just on the personal experience of so many people that have been in John Paul's presence, I'd probably put a bet on he's going to make it," Reynolds said.
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