Thursday, June 16, 2016
John Paul II (Karol Wojtyła) was born in Poland on May 18, 1920. He became Pope in 1978.
I remember the day when he was elected - a neighbor of ours came to our place to tell us the great news then, the lady also invited us to her place to watch the live TV transmission together. Well, we had a TV set of course, she just wanted to share the historical moment with us.
During his pontificate, John Paul II visited 129 countries, including Poland (8 times). On June 11, 1987, he came to my city as well. That was a great day, when the Pope celebrated the service on the main city square. Mostly everybody, went there - to see our Jan Paweł II (John Paul II) and participate in the mass. I can recall, the city center was so packed with people, I could not manage to get to the place where the mass was to be held. But I did find a spot on a street leading to Kosciuszko Square and saw the Pope's vehicle pass by. Furthermore, I remember the crowd, including myself, we all prayed ''Our Father" loudly. Frankly speaking, I found the moment quite unusual. I had never experienced anything like that - the solemn and joyful atmosphere and saying prayers standing among the crowd, on a pavement curb. I think I did not see the Pope himself, but it was once in a lifetime thing anyway.
On that day, in Gdynia, John Paul II spoke about the new meaning of Solidarity for the first time. If you do not know, his teachings and political influence helped to overcome communism in Poland. It led to system changes in other Easter European countries and the fall of the Berlin wall.
Whenever 'the Polish Pope' came to Poland, it was a kind of holiday in the country. He was our fellow countryman, known for his great intelligence, kindness and a bland and benignant smile. Whoever he talked to, he treated the persons in a most considerate way, no matter if they were politicians or simple and uneducated people. As many Poles, we watched his visits on TV. Thanks to live programs, we could also take part in the masses the Pope celebrated during his pilgrimages.
John Paul II died in 2005. National mourning was announced in Poland then. Many people felt as it was their close friend or relative who had died, not the Pope.
Besides being priest and Pope, John Paul II was also a poet, play-writer and philosopher. Have you ever tried to read on of his books?
The bookmark - at the top: picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa (original painting - supposedly painted by St. Luke/ in Jerusalem in 66-67). The painting was brought to Poland in 14th century and placed in the monastery in Częstochowa.
Our Lady of Częstochowa (called 'Black Madonna') is also known as Patroness, Protectoress and Queen of Poland.
John Paull's II motto, regarding Holy Mary, was 'Totus Tuus' (All Yours). He visited the monastery in Częstochowa a few times when he was young. In 1979 he paid his first official papal call there.
John Paul II was canonized in 2014.
Feast day of Saint John Paul II: 22 November