18 June 1998

Beloved Holy Father,

Today is a most sacred day in my life. Eighteen years ago, on the 18th of June 1980, you blessed me for the first time in Saint Peter's Square. When I was introduced to you, you immediately grasped my right elbow with your strong and steady hand. I felt at once that you are the true rock of the Church, to nobly and selflessly stand in the shoes of the Fisherman.

I have now been blessed by you five times over the years. On May 17th this year, you were kind enough to accept our U Thant Peace Award from me. To me, you are the living emblem of peace on earth. Your courage, faith and compassion have elevated this world far, far beyond the flight of our imagination. Your very presence among us is a supreme blessing for humanity.

I wish to offer you my heart's ceaseless gratitude-tears.