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Local resident recalls Pope John Paul II blessing

Updated: Sunday, April 27 2014, 06:53 PM EDT

Belmont County, Oh -

Pope Francis declared former Pope John XXIII and John Paul II saints at the Vatican on Friday morning before hundreds of thousands of people.

The ceremony was the first ever canonization of two pontiffs.

Geraldine Szymialis from Flushing, Ohio, found out she had cancer before her and her husband made a trip to Rome in October 1978. They spent four days in front of the Vatican waiting to see who the next pope would be.

“There is nobody that could tell you, I could not tell you in my heart of hearts, when you see a pope come out at the window and your receiving his first blessing… I have had five cancers since then and I do really believe that is why I have survived as knowing what I received in Rome,” Szymialis said.

She said that blessing is what helps her get through hard times.

“That is one experience that you will never, never forget. There are times here, I live alone, and I think can I continue? Yes, I can. All I have to do is go back to that first blessing,” Szymialis said.

Szymialis said she knew Pope John Paul II was special when she first saw him.

“That day that he appeared at that window, I knew there was something special about this man. He wasn’t just the ordinary man and to think when you read his background of what he suffered and went through, it amazes me,” she said.

The Vatican estimates that 800,000 people witnessed the historic canonization in Rome and Szymialis was very happy she was able to watch it from home.

Local resident recalls Pope John Paul II blessing

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