[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Languages
Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 February 2005, 20:27 GMT
World's Catholics pray for Pope
Spanish Cardinal Eduardo Martinez Somalo holds a candle in St-Peter's basilica at the Vatican, during the mass of Lighting of the candles
Thousands attended a candlelit mass in the Vatican
Catholics around the globe are praying for Pope John Paul II, in hospital in Rome after breathing difficulties.

Despite the Vatican's attempts to quell alarm, special Masses have been hastily organised across the world.

Reflecting the appeal of the travelling Pope, famed for visiting more than 100 countries, Catholics in Mexico, Kenya and the West Bank have gathered.

Thousands have offered prayers for his speedy recovery from complications following influenza.

The Pope was admitted to a hospital in central Rome on Tuesday night but celebrated Mass from his hospital bed on Wednesday morning.

Candlelit mass

Thousands of faithful gathered in St Peter's Basilica in the Vatican - the Pope normally holds his weekly Wednesday audience from its square - for the feast of Candlemas.

JOHN PAUL II
1920: Born Karol Wojtyla near Krakow, Poland
1946: Ordained a priest
1964: Appointed Archbishop of Krakow
1978: Elected Pope and takes name of John Paul II

Candles are lit and blessed to mark the day Jesus was presented to the temple 40 days after his birth.

It was a service that the Pope had intended to lead himself and the archbishop who took his place passed on a personal message from him.

"The Holy Father thanks you for your affection and prayers. He is present here with us through prayer and he sends you his blessing," he said.

In the Pope's native Poland, prayers were held at churches in Warsaw and Krakow, where Catholics lit candles.

In his hometown of Wadowice, they prayed at St Mary's Church where the young Karol Wojtyla was christened.

'Energy'

Former Polish President Lech Walesa said the Pope had already surprised many with his resilience.

Catholics in Westminster Cathedral, London
In London, Catholics gathered in Westminster Cathedral

"Many had said the Pope was in bad shape and they are already with St Peter while the Holy Father continues to serve people and the world," he said.

In Mexico, a country visited by the Pope on no less than five occasions, Catholics gathered in the capital's cathedral.

"He gave us a lot of energy and life when he came to Mexico," worshipper Jorge Calderon told The Associated Press.

And in the Philippines, home to 65 million Catholics, the faithful packed into churches across the country, remembering his visits in 1981 and 1995.

Masses were also dedicated to the pontiff in the West Bank Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.

"I am from Poland from the land of the Pope and we are in Poland always very close to the Pope and we pray always for him," said Polish priest Richard Kenpak, speaking at the church.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why the Pope was admitted to hospital




SEE ALSO
Ailing Pope to stay in hospital
02 Feb 05 |  Europe
Pope's troubled health history
02 Feb 05 |  Europe
UK Catholics pray for sick Pope
02 Feb 05 |  Europe
A life in pictures
15 Oct 03 |  In Depth
Profile: Pope John Paul II
02 Oct 03 |  Europe

RELATED BBC LINKS

RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific