VATICAN CITY (CNN) -- Following an emotional Mass marking his
50th anniversary as a priest, Pope John Paul II announced
Friday that he had written his memoirs. (721K/18 sec. QuickTime movie)
The book called "Gift and Mystery" and written in Polish, was
due to be released by the Vatican this month. It was partly
autobiographical and partly a reflection on the priesthood, a
Vatican spokesman said.
"I thank God because he has allowed me to celebrate the holy
Mass every day in these 50 years," the pope said during the
service, his voice at times trembling with emotion.
Dressed in gold and white vestments, the 76-year-old pope
appeared at times to be tired during the two-and-a-half hour
Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. He is still recovering from an
operation to remove his appendix last month.
After the Mass, the leader of the Roman Catholic church told
thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square that he
had written "memoirs and reflections."
An earlier bestseller
The Pope's 1995 book, "Crossing the Threshold of Hope," was
an international bestseller. It was published by commercial
publishing houses around the world and the royalties went to
The Pope, elected in 1978 as the first non-Italian pontiff in
450 years, recalled November 1, 1946 -- the day that he
prostrated himself on the floor of a chapel in Krakow in his
native Poland and was ordained a priest by the local bishop.
Karol Wojtyla was 26 years old at the time and had just
lived through the ravages of World War II and the loss of all
members of his immediate family.
Playwright turned priest
A handsome, engaging man who gave up a career as a
playwright, he went on to become bishop and cardinal of
Krakow before he began his history-making pontificate.
"These are memories that can't be erased and I am reliving
them today with endless gratitude to the Lord," he said
during the Mass, his voice occasionally cracking.
The solemn celebration in Christendom's largest church was
the first time the Pope had presided at a public Mass since
he was released from Rome's Gemelli hospital on October 15
after a 10-day stay.
The celebration was attended by cardinals and bishops from
around the world as well as hundreds of priests from Rome,
and Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.
The Pope's left hand trembled as he presided over the
The Vatican has not denied a string of media reports that the
Pope may be suffering from Parkinson's disease or a related
Friday's Mass was one of a series of services planned to mark
the 50th anniversary of the Pope's ordination. John Paul has
invited priests from around the world who were also ordained
in 1946 to come to Rome for services next week to celebrate
their anniversary together.
Reuters contributed to this report.