Prev NEXT  


10 Monumental Events That Were Overshadowed by Other Events


2011: Soon-to-be Saint Can't Compete With bin Laden's Demise

Pope John Paul II's beatification was lost in the coverage of Osama bin Laden's death. Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Universal History Archive/Getty Images
Pope John Paul II's beatification was lost in the coverage of Osama bin Laden's death. Gianni Ferrari/Cover/Universal History Archive/Getty Images

On May 1, 2011, a massive crowd of Roman Catholics from all over the globe poured into Vatican City and cheered as then-Pope Benedict XVI personally declared his late predecessor, John Paul II, to be "blessed." Beatification, as that gesture is called, is the step that comes before official sainthood.

John Paul, the first Polish pope, had become a folk hero for his opposition to communism in his native land and for his travels to more countries than any other pontiff.

His ceremony was a memorable one. The crowd was shown a vial of John Paul II's blood, and Vatican officials unveiled a huge tapestry portrait of the late pontiff, before calling in both English and Polish for believers to pray silently. Benedict proclaimed that in heaven, the saints and angels were celebrating, too [source: CNN].

But the event didn't dominate the news that weekend. The following evening, U. S. President Barack Obama announced that Navy SEALs had secretly slipped into Pakistan and killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the man behind the Sept. 11 attacks [source: Politico].

Author's Note: 10 Monumental Moments That Were Overshadowed by Other Events

This assignment hit home with me, because I've actually seen it happen on a smaller, personal scale. I turned 20 on the day that Elvis Presley died — I was on a birthday road trip at the time, and it took me a while to figure out why every station on the radio seemed to be playing Elvis music. Years later, a journalist friend of mine authored a moving family memoir and sold it to a major publisher. It might even have become a best-seller, except that the release date was just before the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, which kept it from getting the attention it deserved.

Related Articles

More Great Links


  • Adams, Cydney. "August 16, 1977: Elvis Presley dies in Graceland bathroom." CBS News. Aug. 16, 2016. (Oct. 3, 2016
  • Associated Press. "Soviets in Germany Detain U.S. Convoy." Feb. 4, 1959. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • "Aldous Huxley. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • "C.S. Lewis." (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Campbell, Steve. "Pearl Harbor Wasn't Only Surprise Attack that Day." Dec. 7, 2013. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • CNN Wire Staff. "Crowds of faithful jam Vatican to honor Pope John Paul II." May 1, 2011. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Cowan, Edward. "Reagan's 3-Year, 25% Cut in Tax Rate Voted by Wide Margins in the House and Senate." The New York Times. July 30, 1981. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Daniels, Patricia; Hyslop, Stephen Garrison; and Brinkley, Douglas. "National Geographic Almanac of World History." National Geographic Press. 2006. (Oct. 3, 2006)
  • Eyewitness to History. "First Woman to Fly the English Channel, 1912." (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Garth, John. "Three Great Men Died That Day: JFK, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley." Daily Beast. Nov. 3, 2013. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Heyman, Brian. "Jackie Robinson: Breaking the Color Barrier." Dec. 29, 2008. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • "1912: Titanic Sinks." (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Hill, Erin. "Remembering Prince Charles and Lady Diana's Royal Wedding (and That Dress!) – 35 Years Later." People. July 29, 2016.
  • "1947: Fertilizer Explosion Kills 581 in Texas." (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Kawa, Barry. "The Wow! Signal." Cleveland Plain Dealer. Sept. 18, 1994. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Kiger, Patrick J. "What is the Wow! Signal?" June 21, 2012. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Mead, Wendy. "The Day the Music Died: Rock's Great Tragedy." Feb. 3, 2016. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Moore Memorial Public Library. "1947 Texas City Disaster." 2016. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Nelson, Valerie J. "Farrah Fawcett dies at 62; actress soared with, then went beyond, 'Charlie's Angels.'" Los Angeles Times. June 26, 2009. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • The New York Times. "On This Day (July 30)." (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Olsen, Arthur J. "Soviet Still Detains U.S. Convoy, Action Believed Test on Berlin." The New York Times. Feb. 4, 1959. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Olsen, Arthur J. "Soviet Releases 4 Berlin Trucks After U.S. Note." The New York Times, Feb. 4, 1959. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Politico staff. "Obama's announcement text." May 2, 2011. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Tyson, Peter. "America's First Lady of the Air." Feb. 2, 2005. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • University of Wisconsin. "Note from the American Embassy to the Soviet Foreign Ministry, protesting detention of a United States Army Convoy, February 4, 1959." (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Van Hoven, Matt. "The Three Who Died: Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon." Los Angeles Times. June 25, 2009. (Oct. 3, 2016)
  • Wright, Robin and Watson, Paul. "Key Foe of Taliban Is Dead, U.S. Says." Los Angeles Times. Sept. 11, 2001. (Oct. 3, 2016)


5 Events in Hispanic History You Never Learned in School

5 Events in Hispanic History You Never Learned in School

Hispanics have contributed to American history since Spanish explorer Christopher Columbus stepped foot in the New World. Here are five events to know.