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Pope’s Admirers Wear Their Hearts on Their ... Raincoats

October 6, 1995

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ At Giants Stadium, worshipers withstood a drenching storm and interminable delays to sing and pray with him.

At the United Nations, bureaucrats climbed on chairs straining for a better view of him.

``He’s the pope, man. When he comes here, you want to see him,″ Nathaniel Connors said.

They sang and clapped for him, and wept and pleaded for a glance, touch or blessing. Wherever Pope John Paul II went Thursday, adoring throngs showed their love and admiration.

``It could have snowed, it could have rained. We would have walked here,″ said Marian McGowan, a member of the rain-drenched 82,948-person flock that attended the papal Mass at the stadium. As it was, they endured long lines at security checkpoints and hours of waiting in a sometimes torrential rain.

``It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially for those of us who are religious. Standing in the rain means nothing,″ Kathleen Shanley said.

Inside the stadium, people cried, pressed their hands to their hearts or called ``Viva el Papa″ as the pope circled the stadium in his bulletproof popemobile.

``This is the most important day of my life. I cannot describe to you how important it is to be here,″ said 76-year-old Edward Pietro. ``After today, if nothing else exciting or wonderful happens in my life, I will die a fulfilled man.″

John N. Curmay said the pope looked right at him as he passed by.

``He’s a man like you and me, but with so much goodness and purity. We should all be like that, but you hope some of it will rub off on you,″ he said.

Earlier, at the United Nations in New York, chants of ``John Paul II, we love you″ echoed through the steel, glass and polished stone hallways as the 75-year-old pontiff came in from the rain.

When he moved toward an elevator bank that had been temporarily walled off from view, someone yelled, ``Take down the barricades!″

When he passed through a hallway, secretaries squealed and then huddled like schoolgirls to compare notes.

Children greeted the pope in the foyer of the General Assembly building visitors’ entrance. A girl handed him a spray of baby’s breath flowers, and a boy gave him a small papier-mache dove, which the pope brandished for all to see.

When another girl read a statement asking the pope to pray that the world’s children might live in peace, Pope John Paul responded by asking children to pray themselves: for the church, for humanity and for him.

As the pope’s motorcade whisked along the United Nations driveway, those looking at the right limousine at the right time saw the pope’s profile and his waving hand through the tinted glass.

Among them was Dolores Souza, who said she believed that if her eyes met the pope’s her arthritis would be relieved.

``I have had the opportunity I dreamt of all my life!″ she said.

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