BY any measurement the late Pope John Paul II was a remarkable man and it is no surprise that some people are already labelling him John Paul the Great.
Perhaps the abiding legacy of the man born Karol Wojtyla in Wadowice, Poland, is that he made himself important not just to Catholics, not just to other Christians, but to those of other faiths and even no faith at all.
In short here was the people's Pope, who went out of his way to speak to the faithful in their own languages, who travelled to more than 120 countries and had nine Pope-mobiles stationed around the globe so he could be seen in safety.
He might have been known as a goalkeeper or an actor but he turned instead to the church in a Poland which was to endure the twin evils of first Hitler's Nazism and then Stalin's Communism.
In this atmosphere was tempered the strength of the late Pope. Under the Nazis he saw friends dragged off to concentration camps, under Communism he often preached in the open and spent 20 years arguing for a church in one showcase new town.
He became Archbishop of his beloved Krakow and ultimately, as a compromise candidate, the successor to the short-lived John Paul I, taking his name as a tribute.
John Paul II was the first Slav to be voted to this high office, the first non-Italian in 455 years.
In his early vigour, his intellect and his obvious love for humanity in general, he amply repaid that confidence and brought the Catholic church a huge fund of good will from all who shared his generosity of spirit.
Yes, he was ultra-Conservative and infuriated the liberal wing of Catholicism by taking a traditional stand on contraception, abortion and the ordination of women.
But he also solved the dilemma of how to adapt to modern times without giving into to it. Of still giving firm leadership, rather than see his church face the upheaval that confronts the Church of England over gay bishops.
Long-suffering Poland lent the world its long-suffering hero, the man who spoke out on the multi-faith problems of the Holy Land, to millions of faithful in the poverty of South America and in the British Isles, where his message was firm, clear and uncompromising to the gunmen, begging them to give up.
In his last days, who will forget the courage of a man once fluent in many languages, struggling to speak at all. He will be a hard act to follow.