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Pope John Paul II

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Another year has come and gone and with it hundreds of thousands of images have recorded the world's evolving history; moments in individual lives; the weather and it's affects on the planet; acts of humanity and tragedies brought by man and by nature. The following is a compilation - not meant to be comprehensive in any way - of images from the first 4 months of 2012. Parts II and III to follow this week. -- Paula Nelson ( 64 photos total)
Fireworks light up the skyline and Big Ben just after midnight, January 1, 2012 in London, England. Thousands of people lined the banks of the River Thames in central London to ring in the New Year with a spectacular fireworks display. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

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Pope Benedict XVI is back in Rome following his week-long-travels to Mexico and Cuba. In reviewing almost 4,000 images that documented his historic travels to the two countries, I decided to concentrate on Cuba, a country that because of travel restrictions, still remains a bit of a mystery to most of us. The first image, though, shows the Pope traveling to Cristo Rey sanctuary in Mexico to lead the holy mass celebration. The Pope urged the faithful to seek a humble and pure heart and trust in God in the face of evil. While in Cuba, in the heart of Revolution Square, with the towering images of guerrilla heroes staring back at him, the Pope called for "authentic freedom" in one of the world's most authoritarian states. Benedict's visit comes 14 years after the historic first papal trip to Cuba by Pope John Paul II, a visit that yielded an era of greater religious expression. – Paula Nelson (50 photos total)
Pope Benedict XVI looks from the helicopter at the Cristo Rey sanctuary as arrives to lead the holy mass celebration at the Parque del Bicentenario in Silao, March 25, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI sought to boost the Catholic faith in the face of violence and other challenges on his first visit to Mexico, receiving eager support from vast crowds of Mexicans. (Osservatore Romano/AFP/Getty Images)

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POPE’S RELICS
POPE’S RELICS: A woman kissed a glass box containing the relics of former Pope John Paul II at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City Thursday. The box contained a wax figure of the pontiff and a vial of his blood. (Ronaldo Schemidt/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

TIME TO MAKE THE NOODLES
TIME TO MAKE THE NOODLES: A man checked the quality of dried noodles at a factory in Lahore, Pakistan, Thursday. Many Pakistanis consume noodles as an early breakfast before starting to fast for the day during Ramadan. (Yslb Pak/Xinhua/Zuma Press)

WATERED DOWN
WATERED DOWN: Youths were sprayed with a water cannon as they protested Thursday in Quezon, Philippines, against a program that would decrease subsidies at state universities and colleges by more than $12 million. (Noel Celis/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

BLESS THESE BULLETS
BLESS THESE BULLETS: A rebel kissed bullets at the Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli, Libya, Thursday. Fighters overran the compound of Col. Moammar Gadhafi this week and their leaders have offered a $1.35 million reward for information leading to his capture. (Patrick Baz/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)

MORE RAIN ON THE WAY
MORE RAIN ON THE WAY: A woman covered her head during an afternoon shower in New York City Thursday. Much of the East Coast is preparing for Hurricane Irene, which is expected to hit the metropolitan area this weekend. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

AHEAD OF THE CROWD
AHEAD OF THE CROWD: A protester stood in front of police officers during a demonstration Wednesday in Kiev, Ukraine, against the arrest of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. The rally came on the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s split from the Soviet Union. (Malolietka Ievgen/Demotix)

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