ROME, MARCH 2, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Ambassadors from a half-dozen Orthodox-majority countries gave a hospitalized John Paul II the gift of an icon of Mary and expressed their hope for his rapid recovery.
Envoys from Cyprus, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia-Montenegro, Romania and Greece gave the gift today.
ZENIT learned from diplomatic sources that Georgios Poulides, Cypriot ambassador to the Holy See, proposed the initiative. The icon, in fact, comes from that Mediterranean island.
After leaving the Gemelli Polyclinic, Bulgarian Ambassador Vladimir Gradev recalled on Vatican Radio that some of the Pope’s first words after his tracheotomy were dedicated to the Virgin Mary: "Totus tuus" (All yours).
"Knowing his love of the Blessed Virgin, who is very venerated also in Orthodox countries, in the countries of Eastern Europe, we thought he would like this icon very much," Gradev said. "He will be able to pray, meditate and know that the peoples of the East are with him and are praying for his health." [Source]