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I UNDERSTAND
English Section

Poles remember Pope John Paul II, 101 years after his birth

18.05.2021 09:00
A number of memorial events are planned in Poland on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the birth of Pope John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II. Photo: Eric Draper (whitehouse.gov) [Public domain]
Pope John Paul II. Photo: Eric Draper (whitehouse.gov) [Public domain]via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday marks exactly 101 years since Polish cardinal Karol Wojtyła, who in 1978 became Pope John Paul II, was born in Wadowice, southern Poland.

The late pontiff, who led the Roman Catholic Church until 2005, was a strong supporter of Poland's anti-communist Solidarity movement.

He is recognized as a key influence in helping to end communist rule in Poland in 1989.

John Paul II once told his compatriots during a homily at Warsaw’s Piłsudski Square: "Let your Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, the face of this land!"

Those words uttered by Pope John Paul II during his first pilgrimage to his native country on June 2, 1979 sent a powerful message to the Polish people at a time when the nation was still under communism.

Though couched in biblical language, the pope's words were interpreted by many as encouragement not to lose hope under the hardships and oppression of Poland's communist regime. Just over a year later, the Solidarity freedom movement was born in the country.

In 1981, the pope was shot and seriously wounded in an assassination attempt at St. Peter's Square in the Vatican.

Recently unearthed documents show that Pope John Paul II was seen as the main enemy of Poland’s communist-era rulers, according to a report.

John Paul II, who visited 129 countries during his long pontificate, served as pope from October 16, 1978 until his death on April 2, 2005.

He was the third longest-serving pontiff in history and was declared a saint in 2014.

Ninety-two percent of adults in Poland have said in a survey that the late pontiff remains a moral authority for them.

Polish President Andrzej Duda has hailed John Paul II as a “pope of freedom and solidarity” and one of the most important figures of the 20th century.

(gs/pk)

Source: IAR