Published on 09 May 2011 by Alison
“Semo romani” said in Roman dialect and meaning “we are Romans” was a phrase often seen on posters last weeked during the beatification of Pope John Paul II. He was perhaps the one Pope that the locals adopted as a Roman - because he considered himself to be one and adopted the city as his own.
Pope John Paul II made an effort to speak in Italian from the first speech he ever made as Pope, and in fact the Italians remember with affection the words “se sbaglierò, mi corrigerete” (which should read “corregerete”). Those words soon became more than just an effort to speak to the locals of the city hosting the Vatican state, and soon became examples where the Pope even dabbled in some Roman dialect.
The Pope first used some Roman dialect in a response to a priest who had jokingly asked him why the Pope who spoke all the languages of the world, didn’t speak a little local dialect, too. Karol Wojtyla’s was the only response to such a question. But it’s not just about language. Pope John Paul II visited all 300 of Rome’s churches during his time as Pope.
John Paul II was to be seen in many other places in Rome, too, completing a stations of the cross around the Colosseum, visiting the Capitoline Hill and declaring Rome to be the city of Maria “Salus Populi Romani” or ” Protectress of the Roman People” - the same Madonna of the icon to be found at the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica, Spanish Steps. He also chose the Tor Vergata University for Jubilee celebrations.
It’s not hard to find images of Pope John Paul II at Rome’s many iconic monuments as the world’s great international Pope also made his surrounding environment his own. Last weekend, Romans saw what many felt to be the beatification of a local citizen, and not just the leader of the Catholic Church in the world.