Our Readers' Opinions
April 22, 2005

‘I was proud to represent SVG at Holy See

Editor: As a general rule I do not bring to the attention of the media the work in which I am engaged. However, I have decided that I will deviate slightly from this rule with regard to my attendance at the funeral of the late, His Holiness Pope John Paul II. {{more}}

I consider it a great privilege that I was requested by our Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves to represent the Government and People of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines at the funeral.

Mere words cannot adequately describe the scene in St. Peter’s Square and the surrounding area on the day of the funeral.

Nothing fully prepares one for such an occasion. Gathered in St Peter’s Square, were thousands of people and perhaps the largest gathering of world leaders and representatives of nation states for many years. As I was led to my seat which was reserved, I felt proud that our nation was represented at what I can only describe as an historical event.

People from every walk of life seemed to be there. The complete Square, and the areas surrounding it were filled with a ‘sea of pilgrims’.

A real moment of drama (or so it seemed) came when the coffin appeared. It was greeted by an enthusiastic applause. In a way it was strange to see a coffin being clapped but the occasion seemed to demand that outburst of emotion from the pilgrims who had gathered to pay their respect to a special person. The homily on Pope John Paul II by Cardinal Ratzinger, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, drew from the crowd cheers and the emotional chant of santo, santo (saint, saint). It was a truly unique event but then the late Pope was a unique human being.

One must praise the authorities in Rome for their efforts to control the vast number of pilgrims and provide security for so many world leaders. Somehow they seemed to have coped very well.

I must thank the Secretariat of the State of the Holy See for the protocol arrangements made for me to attend the funeral.

On arrival in Rome I was met at the airport and on the day of the funeral I was given an official escort to St Peter’s Square.

It was truly an honour to represent St Vincent and the Grenadines at a very special event.

Cenio Lewis

High Commissioner for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines