Milena Kindziuk

Words of cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz concerning a possibility of beginning a beatification and canonization process of parents of St. John Paul II echoed loudly. They sounded authentic, when the cardinal said that ‘this issue is lying in his heart’. After all, it was him who had been a Secretary and the closest cooperators of the Polish Pope for many years and he clearly saw the influence of Emilia and Karol Wojtyła on creating spirituality of John Paul II. He also knew stories of the Pope about his parents very well; especially about his father. I remember myself when cardinal Dziwisz was telling us about the time when just before his death the Holy Father had mentioned his father who had been an example of religiousness for him.

I will admit that I was very glad to hear the words of cardinal Dziwisz; about the fact that parents of St. John Paul II lived as saints and I could understand that I was writing a biography of Emilia Wojtyłowa. I am getting more and more convinced also now when I am preparing a biography of Karol Wojtyła the senior. Indeed, that is true that ‘the spiritual attitude of the future pope was formed in family, thanks to his parents’ faith’. First his mother’s faith who decided to give birth to the future pope despite abortion suggested by a doctor (pregnancy put her life at risk). An Italian author Renzo Allegri in his book ‘Two mothers of John Paul II’ even compared the life of Emilia Kaczorowska – Wojtyłowa with the life of Joanna Beretta Molli and stated that when in 1994 the Polish Pope proclaimed Joanna beatified, as if he considered the saint as his mother: ‘These two women experienced a great tragedy of motherhood. They had to choose between their own life and their children’s life whom they bore under their hearts. They both chose saving their children, devoting their own life. They were heroic mothers, martyrs, the saints. And although John Paul II did not say it clearly, he was sure that his own mother was a saint. Saint in her marriage and family life, a saint martyr, because she had heroically devoted her life in order to give birth to her child whom she had had in her womb’.

It was his mother who taught little Lolek to make the sign of the cross and say first prayers. It was his mother who hang an earthenware stoup with holy water and made every household member make the sign of cross when leaving home. Finally, his mother, as the Pope emphasized, showed him how to give sense to illness and suffering: ‘I learnt to suffer from my mother’. For Emilia was severely ill in the last years of her life.

After her death, her son was brought up by his father who retired early as a soldier. He was forming the character of Lolek, caring about his development in all areas, about education. He even taught him to speak German – hence the future Pope spoke this language in his father’s Austrian accent. His father taught him patriotism and the order and systematic prayer . Every day they both participated in the morning Holy Mass, read the Bible at home and said Rosary prayer together, and sang the Little Office of the immaculate Conception. John Paul II commemorated his father from those times as follows: ‘Every day I could observe his life which was a strict life. He was a soldier by profession, and when he got widowed, his life became more a life of continuous prayer. I often happened to wake up at night and see my Father kneeling like I always saw him so in a parish church’. The Pope’s father led his religious life also when in 1938 (an 18-year-old son Karol began his studies at the Jagellonian University) they moved to Cracow. On Sundays they both went to church together. They built a real and deep friendship with each other. It was his father from whom the Pope received the text of the ‘Litany to the Holy Spirit’, which he said every day throughout his whole life according to his father’s request. John Paul II said after years: ‘My father, who could demand from himself, somehow did not have to demand from his son. Looking at him, I learnt to demand from myself and conscientiously fulfill my duties. I consider my father as an unusual man’. So, there is doubt that – as cardinal Dziwisz said – Emilia and Karol Wojtyłowie, beatified and consecrated, could become ‘an example for contemporary families’. A strong and clear example.

Translated by Aneta Amrozik

Niedziela 31/2018 (5 VIII 2018)

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl