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In September 2000 John traveled to Italy and was greatly inspired by the beautiful cathedrals and religious works by the great masters. Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop Harry Flynn helped John arrange a brief meeting with Pope John Paul while in Vatican City. John has always had a great love and admiration for Pope John Paul II. In a letter to artists, the Holy Father gave his recognition for the great importance of art. He expressed that society needs artists, just as it needs scientists, technicians, workers, professional people, witnesses of the faith, teachers, fathers and mothers.

John's drawings of faith are included here
National Catholic Register
From a special edition, Pope John Paul II - A Life That Changed the World
April 2005

The Church Needs Artists

By John Petermeier

In September of 2000, my father and I made a pilgrimage to Italy. Several months earlier, Archbishop Harry Flynn of Minneapolis and St. Paul had contacted the appropriate Vatican officials on our behalf requesting an audience with the Holy Father during our stay in Rome. The archbishop had been very kind to us during the recent death of my mother.

While visiting in Rome, we were contacted by the Vatican that a meeting with Pope John Paul would be granted. Our meeting was brief, but an incredible experience. When it came my turn to meet the Holy Father, I smiled and took his hand. I was able to tell him that I loved him. He made the sign of the cross on my forehead and said, "God bless you." It seems his presence alone brings such joyful emotions.

Since this encounter, I have been more attentive to the words and activities of the Pope. Being a former art student, I was especially interested in his recent letter to artists. The Holy Father stressed the value and unique responsibilities of artists, saying, "The Church needs artists, and artists need the Church."

The Pope believed that artists have a responsibility to our creator, to use our gifts for the good of humanity and give back to God.

Since my visit to the Vatican, my art has been more focused on the faith. In fact, I have even made several attempts at drawing the Holy Father.

I truly believe this Pope was a great man. We are privileged to have lived at the same moment in history as Pope John Paul the Great.
March 2007 - John traveled back to the Vatican and visited the tomb of Pope John Paul II
     

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