John Paul The Great

3 min read    61 comments

There is something of a syndrome that great Poles are cut down in their prime. There was Napoleon's dashing marshal, Jozef Poniatowski, who drowned in the River Elbe, and World War II Commander General Sikorski, who died in a mysterious plane crash in 1943. And then there are the legions of artists from Chopin to Wyspianski who all fell before their time.

In May 1981 it looked like the same fate was due for Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. He had just ascended the throne of St. Peter's, and his visit to Poland in 1979 had provided the catalyst for the heroic Solidarity protest movement. Moscow was tearing its hair out. Of all the people in the world who might have been elected Pope, Wojtyla was their nightmare choice.

Then the assassin's bullet struck.


Perhaps we'll never know whether the attempt on the Pope's life was organized by the KGB. A new inquiry has just been prompted after Bulgarian Cold War files relating to the case were found sopping wet in an old storeroom. But either way, Poland's best-loved son survived. Not only did he survive, he went on. In fact he went on and on and on - seeing out the collapse of the Iron Curtain in 1989 as well as Poland's accession to the EU in 2004. In the meantime he zoomed back and forth across the world with all the energy of a twenty year old.

To the Poles he was a hero. Certainly, it would be wrong to claim that all Poles agreed with every policy of their Pope. But this did little to diminish their pride and affection for him. He is remembered here in Cracow (where he eventually became archbishop for 15 years) as an extraordinarily warm and caring soul who always had time for his flock. Cracovians called him Uncle. He was a keen sportsman, who hiked, canoed and skied at any given opportunity, often with groups of loyal students. And his sense of humour rarely failed. When he was awarded the Cardinal's hat, someone suggested that it was inappropriate for a man in such a position to ski. He replied with typical wit: "It is unbecoming for a cardinal to ski badly!"

The news that Pope Benedict XVI had begun the process for the canonization of his predecessor was warmly received by the Poles. For many in the West, the concept of sainthood is a somewhat peculiar one. However, given that millions of Poles are already praying to John Paul, this is a most natural step. Pope John Paul II will join an elite group of Cracow saints, the first of whom, St. Stanislas, was canonised in 1253. Cracow has been a destination for pilgrims since its earliest days, a tradition that will only strengthen with the canonization of John Paul. Cracow's 'Uncle' may not have been buried here in the end, but the echoes of his presence can be witnessed all around, from statues to churches to his former home itself, the centuries old Archbishop's palace.

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Paolo
Poland

Santo subito

Reply Feb 10th, 2013
Elizabeth Miller
United States

My dear Pope john Paul II-He was without a doubt the greatest Pope that the Catholic Church has had or ever will have. I was blessed to have attended a Mass in Rome in which he celebrated and got a great picture of him in his Pope mobile. I cried like a baby at the sight of him. He is and will be a Saint, of this I am certain. This past year I was fortunate to go to Poland and walk the step of Pope john Paul II. Oh how blessed I have been to be able to have seen him in person and than walk where he walked. God has been do good to me. Thank you my Heavenly Father, your son Jesus, my Blessed Mother Mary for making my life possible. I LOVE YOU POPE JOHN PAUL II. My birthday is two days before yours and will be my 80th but with all my heart have a blessed birthday in Heaven with the greatest of families.

Reply May 6th, 2012
willow
United States

Pope John Paul II, you were a great man.

Reply Sep 10th, 2011
Andy
United Kingdom

To those who are critical, do your homework first. He may not have been perfect, but then who is? This man was not only the Polish Pope, he was the man who gave Poles the belief to carry on and keep their identity and aspirations as a nation. In my book, that makes him not only the Polish Pope, but a national hero too.

Reply Sep 5th, 2011
Jim
Malta

Carol, you make me cry for joy whenever I see a TV documentary about you, it brings into my mind your kindness, and understanding of us all. I also think of the the big sacrifice you did in leaving your beloved Poland in order to serve us.Thank you my friend

Reply Apr 28th, 2011
hi
Canada

jan pawel drugi jest dobry. good he made poland proud that they have some one that important and intellegent in thier country

Reply Feb 9th, 2011
Robert
United States

I know many people say the same of the popes that have existed during their time but I would say no other pope has ever bridged the faith and the youth the way he did, I love this pope and I will never forget the contributions he did for the Spanish speaking Catholics the way he did. I love you John Paul II, and miss you.

Reply Dec 30th, 2010
kinga
United States

kiedy byl ostatni ras jan pawel 2 w polsce

Reply Oct 21st, 2010
Hanna
Austria

it's a little bit annoying to see him EVERYWHERE in cracow...

Reply Apr 2nd, 2010
Alison Mayfield
United States

I can't believe it's 5 years since he passed on. A great man. So much warmth...

Reply Mar 31st, 2010
wala il Nulla
Tanzania

John Paul II is Pope who has help me understand more about my faith as Christian through his writings.He has taught me on how to love, be humble, humility, fear of God...I always fill that he is already saint of our modern times.I fill his presence now and then. I real miss father.

Reply Dec 24th, 2009
Marie MacPhee
Canada

If others would do their research before commenting - and I mean reading books not just watching the news and reading "The World Weekly News" and other terrible "papers" people would realize that Pope John Paul II is definitely one of the greatest Popes in history. As for those of you who peruse the internet to flame the Catholic Church. You must do a lot more research, as you will find that most boyscout groups, hockey coaches and school teachers there are more molestation cases than in the Catholic Church. (And I don't mean combined.) These terrible instances are rarer than you are lead to believe. Just as you only hear about the airplanes that crash, rather than the thousands that take off and land safely daily, the Catholic Church will only make news when something terrible is happening within its folds. I loved Pope John Paul II - I have studied him for years - and I am not Catholic. He was a good man. His Church is a good church. We non-Catholics have to stop flaming this Church. Like my mother used to say, if you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all...especially when you don't know what you're talking about and watching FOX NEWS!

Reply Dec 18th, 2009
Angyt
Costa Rica

I don't think he was to great of a pope most of the stuff you hear now days is lies

Reply Nov 25th, 2009
Angy
Canada

I think he wasn't all to great the best pope is Pope Pius Xll

Reply Nov 25th, 2009
Angy
Canada

The best pope i think there ever was is Pope Pius Xll

Reply Nov 25th, 2009
david
Germany

John paul 2 .... we miss you !!

Reply Nov 21st, 2009
Narada
United States

I believe that as head of a church that condons pedophilia I feel there is nothing to be proud of. I know you are in complete denial but thanks to the internet revelations have inundate the world. Imagine all those victims who have suffered in anonimity before the internet age. The Catholic Church has laways condoned homosexuality particularly among young boys.

Reply Nov 11th, 2009
Alfred Saw Ei Reh
Burma

Yeah, I always remember him. I do believe that he is now in the foot of the God. We ,all get his greadfulness & Kindness. Great Thznks to Pope. I do LOVE you so much Father!!!

Reply Oct 31st, 2009
Alfred Saw Ei Reh
Burma

Yeah, I always remember him. I do believe that he is now in the foot of the God. We ,all get his greadfulness & Kindness. Great Thznks to Pope. I do LOVE you so much Father!!!

Reply Oct 31st, 2009
lori fabian
Canada

I remember when the pope came to Fort Simpson N.W.T. My family and I were very happy to see him. Me and my family were touched by him and the way he touched our people in our community too. We will all miss him dearly.

Reply Oct 23rd, 2009
Lisa
United States

I never met you but I know you prayed for me! Miss you still...

Reply Aug 23rd, 2009
Sally Barnes
United Kingdom

Am amazing person. Chattan - I think you've got your wires crossed!

Reply Jul 31st, 2009
Chattan
United States

I believe this picture is very revealing to those with eyes to see! First, you see two Catholic leaders wearing Yarmakas on their heads which is Jewish. Second, 2 of them have huge noses which is a Jewish trait. Pope John Paul's mother's name was Wanda Katz which is Jewish. Question: Is the Catholic Church Christian or Jewish? The Christian faith and Jewish beliefs are completely opposite. What's up with this? You decide!

Reply Jun 26th, 2009
Lindsay
United States

An inspiration. A humble and kind man. Thank you....

Reply Jun 25th, 2009
Alison
United States

Pope John Paul II was an amazing man. Thank you for putting this up. Hope to visit Krakow one day.

Reply May 28th, 2009
Mike
Netherlands

He was a great guy indeed, humble and all, i saw him was in Peru, but my question is: where does it say in the bible that there should be pope? i read it through and through but nothing,, anybody a hint?

Reply Apr 23rd, 2009
Bart
United States

Love forever...(*)

Reply Apr 1st, 2009
Veronica Letsome
Ireland

I went to see Pope John Paul 11 in 1979 in Dublin. I can't explain the feeling I had inside me then, it was like Our Lord was amongst us. There will never be another Pope like him he communicated with his flock. Sadly missed.

Reply Mar 24th, 2009
David
Malta

Pope John Paul II you were one of, if not the greatest man to ever live. You have changed the lives of many for the better and lit up the world in ways which cannot be explained. We all miss you so much and hopefully one day we will be with you once again! God bless your soul!

Reply Feb 19th, 2009
billy
Canada

false prophet just like the bible says in rev

Reply Feb 14th, 2009
Dražen
Russia

Ivan Pavao jedan i jedini. Pavle spasi nas od grmlja i stabla, inace svi cemo na skrge disat.

Reply Dec 15th, 2008
David
Australia

Wake up Catholics, the pope is a false prophet. You are warned in the bible about wolve's in sheeps clothing. I will never step into a Catholic church again. I chose to worship the king of kings without the evil catholic church between myself and the lord obstructing the truth.

Reply Nov 4th, 2008
pip
Philippines

i lost my mom last 2004. then when the holy father died, i feel the same pain. a great pain! i missed my mother, my brother and my father. who died last year 2007 and this year. same thing with the pope. i mssed him a lot. its a great pleasure to see him in manila year2005. during world youth day. its one of my greatest memories of the pope. he is the greatest man! holy father... i love and miss you so much!

Reply Oct 18th, 2008
betty
United States

he was the best

Reply Oct 13th, 2008
sarah
United States

i went to his house he actually lives behind a church and thats is why he got into minestry just think if it wasnt for that church the world would have missed his greatness all together

Reply Oct 7th, 2008
Margaret Wamukoya
Barbados

The Pope of my century. Aman of the world, Loving to all races of the world, holy, humble, and one who could associate with all ages.Lover of peace.

Reply Aug 25th, 2008
Isabella
Australia

We miss you heaps, ILY Lots

Reply Aug 22nd, 2008
Kevin Di Sanza
Canada

Pope John Paul you were awsome. We all miss you here at St. Martin Of Tours School down in Stoney Creek Ontario. All The best.

Reply Jun 11th, 2008
mary
United Kingdom

i am going to visit your home of krakov where i will remember you in my prayers for all you done for us.

Reply Jun 5th, 2008
Rich
United States

Papa John Paul II, I miss you soooo much. Thank you for all you have done, and for your prayers now.

Reply May 4th, 2008
Indigo
United Kingdom

St. Pope John II is a great kind and caring person. I love him and look up to him. I just wished the website would have more about him.

Reply Apr 21st, 2008
AG
Poland

he was the most beautiful, forgiving and modest person I can think of

Reply Mar 29th, 2008
MB
United States

he was a great man! and i am writing a project for school about him at school. he had te courage to forgive!

Reply Feb 20th, 2008
jamiepoooo
Albania

i love the pops so much i miss him i miss the way he looks i think was brilliant

Reply Jan 24th, 2008
joseline portillo
Canada

pope john paul was the best man that i have seen in my life and i am thankfull for knowing the pope i meet the pope when i went on a trip to mexico i loved his kindness and the love he had for every ono he was a great man and i am happy that i meet him onec and felt his hands .R.I.P we all love you pope john paul 2

Reply Jan 16th, 2008
Brendan Kealey
Ireland

JOHN PAUL UNTIL THE END OF TIME

Reply Nov 30th, 2007
Bernadette
Australia

Blessed is the humble for God will exalt him. Pope John Paul was the defender of faith, the opressed and the unborn. A man of love, charity, faith, humility, forgiveness and compassion.

Reply Nov 24th, 2007
dan ochola
Kenya

the true pope he was cause he decided to forgive the man who shooted at him,acording to the lords prayer.

Reply Nov 5th, 2007
Maya Warszawska
United States

i loved when he was alive and i was happy when he died because he now is a saint in heaven with the holy father; GOD

Reply Oct 30th, 2007
Ryan Harvey
United States

Without pope John Paul the Second Poland would still be lost...He was a great man.

Reply Sep 23rd, 2007
Joseph Szepietowski
United States

Saint John Paul is the reason for my return to the Catholic church/faith after 20 plus years of wandering

Reply Sep 22nd, 2007
thelma roberts
United Kingdom

i am not catholic but i too had a great respect for pope john paul - he was a grand man

Reply Sep 21st, 2007
Anna
United States

My beautiful Pope John Paul, I am asking for your help in the healing of my sister Martha who suffers from Lupus. Anna

Reply Jun 19th, 2007
Diego
United States

A man that showed us how to love, care, pray and forgive. A true example and the pride of our Catholic faith.

Reply Jun 6th, 2007
sharon
United States

We have prayed to Pope J.P.II and have recieved many MIRACLES(both large and small). We have no doubt that he is a saint!!!

Reply May 21st, 2007
Jan
United Kingdom

We miss you so much Holy Father. You are in our hearts always, and fill us with hope and love.

Reply Apr 29th, 2007
Michael
United Kingdom

We miss him so much...

Reply Apr 23rd, 2007
Eileen
United Kingdom

I have walked in his footsteps. wonderful.

Reply Apr 22nd, 2007
johny
United States

FANTASTIC JOHN PAUL II IS STILL WITH US ! IN THE KRAKOWIANS HARTS

Reply Apr 10th, 2007
Edward
Ireland

nothing but the truth

Reply Mar 14th, 2007
mona
United States

beatiful person !

Reply Mar 13th, 2007