Pope ends grueling Slovakia tour

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia, Sept. 14 (UPI) -- Pope John Paul II ended his visit to Slovakia Sunday with the beatification of two clerics who were persecuted by the country's former communist regime.

About 200,000 pilgrims joined in a mass in the Slovak capital where the pope beatified a bishop and a nun considered by the Catholic Church to be martyrs of the recent communist era, Voice of America reported.


Suffering was a theme of his sermon as the 83-year old pontiff beatified nun Zdenka Schelingova and Bishop Basil Hopko.

Both were tortured and imprisoned for fighting for their religion. The pope said the world could be inspired by their faith and perseverance, VOA said.

Many in the congregation said they feared this would be the pope's last visit to the region because of his frail health, VOA said. John Paul suffers from Parkinson's disease and finds it difficult to walk.

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