Canadian singer Celine Dion has paid an emotional tribute to late POPE JOHN PAUL II by recalling the spiritual experience she shared with the Holy Father which changed her life.

The MY HEART WILL GO ON singer believes her religious faith began in 1984 when she was 16 years old, during her first performance for the Pope.

She ended her song A DOVE by releasing hundreds of doves, and was amazed when a single bird perched on the Pope's shoulder and refused to leave him.

A decade later (94) she had the opportunity to thank the leader of the Catholic Church for the religious moment, when he invited Dion, her husband RENE ANGELIL and her mother, THERESE, to a private audience with him in Rome, Italy.

She says, "It was a moment, like time stopped. The emotion was bigger than everything. You sensed this incredible force.

"It was definitely one of the strongest moments in my life, like being in contact with heaven."

Angelil adds, "He spoke to us in French when we met him. He blessed our families and wished Celine the best."

The Polish-born Pope died in his private apartment in The Vatican on Saturday (02APR05) at the age of 84.

04/04/2005 17:40