Appearing on the balcony of St. Peter's, his first words as supreme pontiff were: “May Jesus Christ be praised!” At the close of the installation eucharist John Paul II lifted high the papal crozier, redesigned by Pope Paul as a staff surmounted by the crucified Christ. In all his utterances to date the new pope has emphasized Christ as the hope of the world but has also lifted up the mankind Christ came to save. He has illuminated the variousness of this mankind, from the individual in all his loneliness, even his alienation, to persons in collectivities of family, class, race, and nation. He has described many Christians too as people often filled with doubt about their ultimate meaning to themselves or for others, both on the level of social relations of all kinds and in the redemptive community of the Church. John Paul closed his installation homily: “I appeal to all men—to every man (and with what veneration the apostle of Christ must utter this word, ‘man’)—pray for me.“
Some days later John Paul visited Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and declared that he dedicated his pontificate to the Dominican tertiary St. Catherine of Siena (d. 1380). This was one further gesture of his identification with the Italian people as their national primate, for St. Catherine and St. Francis of Assisi are the two patron saints of Italy. But he was also signaling his intention, in his choice of a lay woman, a reformer, a crusader, a mystic, and a doctor of the Church (so proclaimed in 1970), to assign high positions of decisionmaking to lay women and to female religious of all orders in recognition of the prominent role women have played in the past and of the much greater role, short of the priesthood, they would be playing under his pontificate.