May 02, 2014 - Thousands of Bosnians celebrated the canonization of Pope John Paul
II on Wednesday at the unveiling of a statue in the heart of Sarajevo. The crowd
shouted ``long live the pope'' as the 3-meter-high statue showing the late pope standing
in meditative prayer was unveiled in front of the city's cathedral. John Paul's
support for Sarajevo during the 1992-95 war made him very popular among the city's
predominantly Muslim population. Sarajevans endured 1,425 days under siege by Serbian
forces during the conflict and appreciated the pope's repeated calls for an end to
their suffering. ``His words were perceived as messages of hope in Bosnia, especially
in Sarajevo,'' said the Muslim member of Bosnia's Presidency, Bakir Izetbegovic.
John Paul tried to visit Sarajevo during the worst days in 1994 but canceled his
trip because the Serbs said they wouldn't guarantee his safety. He visited after the
war ended, and tens of thousands jammed the streets to welcome him. In front of Sarajevo's
cathedral he shook hands with the crowd and stroked the foreheads of weeping people,
many of them Muslims. ``His words were like medicine for our still-open wounds,''
Izetbegovic said. (Source: AP)