By Paweł Rytel-Andrianik

On June 14 and 15, Polish bishops celebrated the 100th anniversary of Karol Wojtyla’s birthday in the papal sanctuary in Cracow and his hometown Wadowice as well as in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska.

On Sunday, the Polish bishops celebrated a solemn Eucharist at the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II in Cracow, which was built at the site of the stone quarries where Karol Wojtyła was employed during the war as a manual worker. In his homily, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop senior of Cracow and long-term personal secretary of the Polish Pope, said that “John Paul II, the Bishop of Rome, is for us a beautiful and strong sign of the pastoral ministry of the bishop in the Church”. After the Eucharist the Polish bishops together with the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio listened to a concert during which works by Mozart, Bach, Händel and Pergolesi were performed.

On Monday, June 15, the Polish bishops entrusted the Church in Poland to Our Lady at the Sanctuary of the Bernardine Fathers in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, to which Karol Wojtyła made numerous pilgrimages during his life. It was here that his father took him for the first time after his mother’s death and since then this sanctuary – called the Polish Jerusalem – has become a permanent place of visit for Karol Wojtyła as the future bishop, cardinal and pope.

Then the Polish bishops celebrated Holy Mass in the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wadowice, where Karol Wojtyła was baptized on 20 June 1920. The Eucharist was presided over by Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, Metropolitan of Poznań and President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, who in his homily said that “St. John Paul II was a great gift from God to Poland, Europe, the world and the Church” and that he was “a conscience to the world”. The President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference stressed that St. John Paul II devoted his whole life to the service of God and man.

“For behind all the Pope’s words and deeds was his personal holiness. The Holy Father +taught how to live – and lived, as he taught+. He not only spoke about prayer, but really prayed. Not only did he call for loving everyone, but he loved everyone – and this could be seen by every word he said and every gesture he made. He did not mechanically repeat the words of Christ about forgiveness, but he did forgive the one who made an attempt on his life” – emphasized the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference.

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