From Wadowice close to Kraków, Karol Józef Wojtyła became Pope on October 16th, 1978, becoming the first Polish Pope at the moment Poland was under the USSR domination.
Student in philosophy, he performed on anti-nazis theater, he entered a clandestine seminary in 1942. 4 years later he became a priest in Kraków after studies in Italy and France. In 1948, he is a priest in the communism Poland “PRL” and became the youngest Polish bishop ever in 1958. During the Vatican II process, he became the spokesman of the Polish episcopate. Archbishop and cardinal (the youngest) in 1968 he defends the Polish workers in the PRL times and the Human Rights. As Pope, he was against the Communism and will be highly part of the fall of the Iron Wall.
On October 16th, 1978 he is chosen as Pope after the brutal death of John-Paul I. He is the first Polish and Slavs Pope of the History and the first non-Italian Pope since 1522 (Adrian Ist – Dutch).
He died on April 2nd, 2005, after 26 years, 5 months and 18 days (the 3rd longest pontificate) after visiting 129 countries for 1/2 billion people and creating the World Youth Day, beatified 1340 people and canonized 483 saints (more than the 5 previous centuries). John Paul II was beatified on May 11th, 2011 by Pope Benoit XVI and canonized by Pope François on April 27th, 2014, considered as a saint he is celebrated on October 22nd, the date he became Pope.
POPE JAN-PAUL II AND WARSAW
June 2/3, 1979 – “Let the Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth. This earth.”
8 months after his election, Pope Jean-Paul II visited Poland and Warsaw (his second travel after Mexico, Dominican Republic and the Bahamas), not without difficulties because Communism Authorities were scared to organize this event. During his whole pilgrimage in Poland, the crowd was full of spies. And their fear was founded because John-Paul II with his famous “Let the Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth. This earth.”, these words pronounced in front of hundred of thousands of people in the Place of Victory (Jósef Piłsudski Place) and for millions of people on TV and radio) changed people and was part what will happen in the future with the end of Communism and a free Poland. The next day, he made another speech for the students of Warsaw, a way to give a message to the new generation, he hoped a generation living in a future “free Poland” a country and people full of culture, knowledge and tradition. “I will ask the Holy Spirit with all my heart to grant you: such an awareness, such a consciousness of the value and the meaning of life, such a future for you, such a future for Poland“.
June 16/18, 1983 – 600th anniversary of the Jasna Góra Image – “Peace be to You, Poland, my Homeland”
During this second visit the Pope arrived in Warsaw at the Okęcie airport at 17:00 and celebrated a mass in the old town at the arch cathedral basilica at 18:45.
The second day, was welcomed by Wojciech Jaruzelski and the PRL authorities at the Belvedere next to the Łazienki Park at 10:00, not as a Pope but as a President and the meeting was cold. At 13:00 he prayed in the Royal Chapel in the Church of the Transfiguration (Father Capuchin). At 13:45 an ecumenical meeting was organized before a massive mass at the former Stadium Narodowy the Dziesięciolecia Stadium in front of almost 100 000 people.
On the third day he paid tribute to the massacre of Pawiak and the Holocaust victims in front of the Ghetto Heroes in Front of what is now the POLIN MUSEUM. After this he continued his pilgrimage in Poland for 5 days in Częstochowa, Niepokalanów, Szczecin, Kamień Pomorski, Poznań, Katowice, Wrocław and Kraków.
June 8 and 13/14th, 1987 – Last visit before the end of Communism
The third visit is maybe one of the most important, he rook the opportunity to make a tribute to the Poles and the need of freedom in Poland. When he arrived in Warsaw at the Okęcie airport he started directly with an homely with “Polish land! Earth difficult and experienced! Earth beautiful! My land! Be greeted“. He continued his journey at the Cloistered Nuns in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist, with a visit to the representatives of other Christian Confessions, to the authorities of the PRL and finished this first day with a Inaugural Mass of the National Eucharistic Congress. He continued his journey in Poland in Lublin, Tarnów, Kraków, Szczecin, Gdynia, Gdańsk, Częstochowa and Łódź and came back on June 13th at celebrated a mass at the Holy Cross Church. The next day, the last of the 1987 Polish journey he met the Polish-Jewish community. Plac Defilad in front of the Palace of Culture and Science the Pope closed the National Eucharistic Congress. He concluded his journey at the Okęcie airport with those words for a free Poland: “I once said that Poland is the home of a difficult challenge. This challenge contributes to the course of our history. It also defines Poland’s special place in the great family of nations on the European continent and around the globe. If I were to use the phrase of the Second Vatican Council here, I would say that – along with all nations – our homeland must strive to make human life in Poland more and more human, more and more human. Everyone who lives on this earth and everyone in the great community of nation and society.“
June 8/9 1991 – First journey in the Free Poland
During this first journey after the end of Communism and a free democratic Poland, John Paul II visited Koszalin, Rzeszów, Przemyśl, Lubaczów, Kielce, Warsaw, Łomża, Białystok, Olsztyn, Włocławek and Płock.
Hi arrived in Warsaw on June 8th, 1991 and reserve his first speech to the leaders of the Poland in the Royal Castle of Warsaw, in the old town at the arch cathedral basilica he held a mass, celebrating freedom with speeches for the second centenary of the Constitution of May 3, 1791, and a tribute to the Members of the Polish Parliament. He made another mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a stop to the Apostolic Nunciature and the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera.
On June 9th, 1991, he welcomed the representatives of the Jewish Community at the Apostolic Nonciature, before the Lutheran Church of the Holy Trinity next to the Plac Jósef Piłsudski in the place of Agrykola Square he will hold a mass for the beatification of Fr. Rafal Chyliński. His last stop in Warsaw was the Episcopal Conference of Poland at the 6 Stefan Wyszyński Square. He concluded his journey by: ” Thank God . There are reasons for this thanksgiving, despite everything that has weighed the history of the Commonwealth from that date two centuries ago – forward in the last century, and in turn in the 20th century. God gave us through the intercession of the Queen of Poland to overcome these historical experiences. Poland has not only returned to the map of Europe since 1918. Poles have also laid their hand to free Europe from two cruel systems of inhuman totalitarianism, so that the nations of our continent are opening the opportunity to build a common home in which reconciled and friendly societies live their responsibility for the world in the perspective of the third millennium.“
June 11 and 13th, 1999 – The last time in Warsaw and the last Tour in Poland
On June 11 and 13th, Jean-Paul II came for the last time in Warsaw and made the last tour in Poland. He came back one last time in Kraków in 2002, where everything began for him, for the Dedication of the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Kraków, Beatification and 400th Anniversary of the Dedication of the Basilica of Our Lady of the Angels in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska.
On June 11th, he started is journey in Warsaw by the Polish Parliament (the Sejm), for the first time ever a Pope entered the Sejm. He paid tribute to the Solidarność (Solidarity): “We are all conscious that this meeting today in the Parliament would not have been possible had there not been the resolute protest of Polish workers on the Baltic coast in the unforgettable August 1980“. The Pope also warned the Sejm: “The place where we are invites us to a deep reflection upon the responsible use, in public life, of the gift of freedom regained and upon the need to work together for the common good“ and an Europe only focused about economy and politic : “Church warns of vision of Europe which exclusively considers its economic and political aspects“.
After the Sejm he visited the Church of the Basilian Fathers in Praga-Południe, the Episcopal Conference of Poland, the arch cathedral basilica, the new Universitary Library, the Plac Jósef Piłsudski in front of hundred of thousands of people. He had a Moment of prayer at Radzymin cemetery before a mass at the arch cathedral basilica. On June 13th coming back from Sandomierz he paid tribute to the “LOT” staff for the 70th Anniversary at the Chopin Airport, he held a beatification mass at the Jósef Piłsudski Place of 108 martyrs of the Second World War and Sr Regina Protmann and Edmundo Boyanowski. Then he went to the Saint-Florian Cathedral in Praga and came back at the Plac Jósef Piłsudski before leaving Warsaw for the last time.
John Paul II is the most known Pole in the world, he was there in the worsts moments of the modern History of Poland, during the WWII, he was also there when Poland was under the USSR domination. He never gave up and fought until the end for peace all over the world, his words changed Poland forever, and he is for a lot in the fall of Communism. Not only religious he was one of the greatest politician of the History.
Photo : Ausir – Wikimedia