All eyes on John Paul II Posted by on Apr 27, 2014 in Famous people, History, Religion

Image by mharrsch on

Image by mharrsch on

Today was a very important day for all Poles! Important, touching and emotional:) Pope Francis canonized into sainthood two 20th Century popes at a Mass on Sunday celebrated before hundreds of thousands of people at the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square, lauding his predecessors as “men of courage” (ludzie z odwagą).

The crowd roared when Pope Francis read the formal proclamation of sainthood for Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II. The event drew scores of global leaders as well as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whose decision to step down last year made Francis the leader of the world’s 1.1 billion Roman Catholics.

“They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them,” Francis said of the newest saints. “For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful — faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history.”

Pope Francis described Saint John XXIII as “the pope of openness to the Spirit” and Saint John Paul II as “the pope of the family.” Francis emphasized their faith, saying they were filled with the Holy Spirit and “bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy.”

Benedict had promised to remain “hidden from the world” after resigning last year, but Francis has coaxed him out of retirement and urged him to take part in the public life of the church. He sat with a group of cardinals next to the altar.

Pope John Paul II, the second-longest serving pope in history, led the church from 1978 until his death in 2005. A native of Poland, he was the first non-Italian since Pope Adrian VI, who died in 1523. Polish pilgrims carrying the red and white flags of John Paul’s homeland were visible everywhere in the square.

Pope John led the church from 1958 until his death in 1963. He is best known for ordering the Second Vatican Council, a liberalizing effort that actually completed its work two years after John was felled by cancer. He is credited with efforts to modernize the church that included allowing Mass to be celebrated in local languages instead of traditional Latin. Like John Paul, he also pressed for closer ties to other religions: This Council in 1965 issued a landmark document that called for Jewish-Catholic dialogue and rejected the ancient Christian stigma against Jews as killers of Jesus.

Pope John Paul II, who is still widely revered in his homeland, is credited as having played a major role in helping to weaken and then defeat the Communist regime in the late 1970s and 1980s. He proved to be an uniting force for Poles while at the same time successfully walking a thin diplomatic line between helping to bring down the system while helping to maintain peace and encouraging reconciliation in what proved to be a relatively bloodless revolution.

While internationally The Pope, as many Poles still refer to him, was well-known for the globetrotting exploits which made him the most accessible pope in history, at home he was loved for his warmth and the affection he continued to feel for his homeland right up until his death.

Do następnego razu… (Till next time…)

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


  1. Nicole:

    As an ex-Catholic with a Polish background, I was very happy (and happy and proud for Poles everywhere) to read about Pope John Paul II being canonized.

    This is off topic, but I just wanted to say that I stumbled across this blog today and I am very glad I did! I am currently in the very beginning stages of attempting to complete one of my lifelong dreams of learning Polish. This blog is absolutely beautiful to me because it talks about Polish culture which I adore learning about, and incorporates Polish vocabulary and phrases which are interesting and of use to me during my Polish learning mission. I love the poems used on this site as they are a small but important way I can see which words/phrases I know- and most importantly, many of them are read in a youtube video so I can hear the beautiful sounds of Polish and learn to more naturally associate them with the spelling of Polish words.
    Bardzo dziękuję!