He beatified 1,340 people and canonized 483 saints. He was one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. But few Filipinos know that Pope John Paul II, who will be named a saint on April 27, had a weakness for kapeng barako and Philippine mangoes.
Former Ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa said she discovered the Pope’s love for coffee when he visited the Philippines in 1981. De Villa, then a member of the Mother Butlers Guild, was one of several persons chosen to serve the Pope in that visit.
“I remember that it was his first visit to the country when I discovered that the Pope loved to drink coffee,” she told reporters.
After that, de Villa, whose husband hails from Batangas, started sending kapeng barako to the Pope.
“He was pleased. His aide sent me a letter saying that the Holy Father drank the coffee I sent,” she said.
De Villa added that the Pope also loved to eat mango.
‘That is why every time I came home, I would make it a point that I had mangoes for him. I would wrap those mangoes one by one to ensure that they will be fit for the table of the Pope,” she said.
“At one time, he told some bishops, ‘Your ambassador spoils me with mangoes,’” she recalled.
Pope John Paul II died on 2 April 2005. He and Pope John XXIII will be canonized on Sunday in Rome.
At least eight Filipino bishops will witness the canonization of the two Pope Saints — Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo, Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma, Romblon Bishop Jose Talaoc, Calbayog Bishop Isabelo Abarquez, Tandag Bishop Nereo Odchimar, La Union Bishop Rodolfo Beltran, Catanduanes Bishop Manalo delos Santos and Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes.