A Vatican spokesman says Pope John Paul II tried to express his thanks when he was told about the crowd of thousands of young people gathered in St. Peter's Square offering their prayers and support for him.

The spokesman says the pope apparently was thinking of the countless young Catholics he met during his many trips abroad - to 129 countries and foreign territories - when he tried to speak to the priests attending him late Friday.

The pope's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls, told reporters that John Paul II "seemed to have said the following sentence: "I have looked for you. Now you have come to me. And I thank you."

Asked for further details, Mr. Navarro-Valls said those words were "reconstructed" or pieced together from several attempts the pope made to speak late Friday.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.