My travels with Pope John Paul II: A reporter remembers
CNN's Jim Bittermann meets with Pope John Paul II.
April 29th, 2011
04:33 PM ET

My travels with Pope John Paul II: A reporter remembers

By Jim Bittermann, CNN

Rome, Italy (CNN) - I guess I could say I first met Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1978.

I wasn’t exactly alone with the pontiff. There were hundreds of thousands of others who also met him for the first time that night in St. Peter’s Square when he stepped out on the balcony as the newly elected pope.

And the story you may have heard is absolutely true: When they announced that Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was the new pope, those of us in the press corps - especially those of us broadcasting live - went as white as his robe. Few people ever put the cardinal on their papal short lists and fewer still could immediately understand the name announced over the Vatican’s crackly speaker system.

But we got to know John Paul - who will be beatified Sunday in Rome, the last step before sainthood - very quickly.


- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • History • Pope John Paul II

Did you encounter Pope John Paul II?
A placard showing the late Pope John Paul II holding a baby is displayed on a lamp post in Rome for the beatification.
April 29th, 2011
03:43 PM ET

Did you encounter Pope John Paul II?

Pope John Paul II is said to have been seen in person by more people than any other figure on Earth. He was pope from his election in 1978 to his death in 2005 and traveled to all corners of the globe to meet people where they lived.

John Paul II will be beatified in Rome on Sunday, the last step before sainthood.

Did you ever see John Paul II in Rome or did he come to your hometown? What was it like to meet the pope? Share your comments with us below.

And you can also share photos and videos through CNN's iReport.

Your stories and images could be included in the beatification coverage on CNN’s Belief Blog.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Celebrity • Christianity • Church • Europe • Italy • Pope John Paul II

About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.