By David Uebbing
Catholic News Agency
VATICAN CITY (April 3, 2013) — Pope Francis spent a "long time" kneeling in silent prayer before the tomb of Blessed John Paul II on April 2, the eighth anniversary of his death.
The visit "this evening in the Vatican basilica expresses the deep, spiritual continuity of the Petrine ministry shared by the Popes," according to an April 2 statement from the Vatican press office.
"It is precisely this Petrine ministry that Pope Francis so deeply feels and shares, and which he has also shown in his meeting with and repeated telephone calls to his predecessor Benedict XVI," the statement read.
Over the last two days, the pope seems to have been steeping himself in the spiritual riches and strength of his predecessors who are buried in Saint Peter's Basilica.
Late on Monday afternoon he visited the tomb of Saint Peter, as well as the final resting places of Popes Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII, Paul VI and John Paul I.
Then, at around 7:00 p.m. on April 2, Pope Francis went to the tomb of Blessed John Paul II, just after St. Peter's closed for the evening.
Cardinal Angelo Comastri and the Pope's personal secretary, Monsignor Alfred Xuereb, accompanied him to the Altar of Saint Sebastian, where the late pope is entombed.
He also stopped and prayed at the tombs of Blessed John XXIII and Saint Pius X.