Friday, October 5, 1984 a plane lands in Lamezia and a gentleman dressed in white descends and bends over to kiss the earth. Then he receives the homage of thousands of farmers and says, "I have never seen a procession of gifts so long." Thus began the visit of John Paul II in Calabria.
Lamezia, Serra San Bruno, Paola, Catanzaro, Cosenza, Paola, Crotone and, finally, Reggio. It's a crowd bath everywhere. "Christ did not stop at Eboli-he says in Reggio-but he is here on the way with you, to build together with you a more just, more humane and Christian Calabria." At 19.30 o'clock on Sunday, October 7, another plane takes off and brings the Holy Fathe
r back to Rome. " From today Calabria has a Calabrian in addition, "says John Paul II at the end of the visit, and in the same hours back home the little Vincenzo Diano, seized and held captive by bandits who release him while the pope pronounces the homily closing the last M
ass in Reggio. In Crotone the greeting is entrusted to a member of the factory board of Pertusola Sud. Wojtyla has personally known the conditions of the working class, first as a worker in a quarry and then in a factory, and the Calabrian worker turns to the pontiff with the TU: "It is on behalf of all the workers of Calabria and of the migrant workers that I offer you the Welcome and thank you for your coming to this land… ". At the time of his leave John Paul II handed him a rosary saying: "It is for his mother or for his wife, because his was the most sincere speech I have heard in Calabria.
" Karol Wojtyla marked the story, and marked the life of an entire generation. I was thirty when Cardinal Wyszynski, to an agitated Karol because in the conclave he could see his name rise in number, he said: "If you elect, please, do not refuse. You will have to accompany the church to the third millennium. And since then the world has
changed. Seven years ago I met and spoke at length with Lech Walesa, President of Poland from 1990 to 1995. The electrician of Gdansk, founder of Solidarnosc, had come to Calabria to receive the prize of reconciliation, conceived by the priest Adam Castagnaro and assigned by the Christian community of Conflenti. On that occasion, Walesa said: "Without Solidarnosc, Gorbachev's glasnost and PERESTROJCA would not have been possible. But without the support of Pope Wojtyla would not be born Solidarnosc. And after the pope's death he added: "He has awakened the Polish nation. Thanks to him we have regained faith and hope. Without him communism would have lasted still a long time.
" Wojtyla has marked the story. My generation grew up with him and cried for him. It was the Cardinal of Krakow who said, while the pope was in agony: "You must not be ashamed of your own emotions and tears." With his suffering he conquered the hearts of all, and in him we saw the sufferings of a god who became man and who died on the cross. Kar
ol Wojtyla has humanized the pope's figure. They say one of his last thoughts was for the young. And who does not remember today, one year after his death, his eyes? Those bright and keen eyes that dug deep into you, as President Ciampi recalled, and that look full of affection that embraced you even before he lifted his arms.
So we want to think of him, one year after death, and we are sure that Calabria has a Calabrian in addition. Up there in the sky.