In 1990, at the age of 29, she plunged from a window, damaging her spine. As she underwent months of medical treatment, her artist husband, Stanisław, spent time in the Bieszczady Mountains in southeast Poland, praying for his wife as he completed the Stations of the Cross.
After Janina finished her therapy, she fell into despair. She wondered why God had permitted an accident that shattered her life’s dreams. Confined to a wheelchair, she began to withdraw from those around her.
In 1996, Stanisław carved two crosses. He gave one to his wife and the other to a priest in Rzeszów, a city near the village of Stefkowa where the couple lived.
In the year 2000, the head of the local municipality was invited to the Vatican. He asked Stanisław for a gift he could present to the pope. Janina decided to donate her crucifix.
After the delegation presented the cross to John Paul II, he entrusted it to his secretary, Fr. Mieczysław Mokrzycki.
On Good Friday 2005, as pilgrims reached the 14th Station of the Cross at the Colosseum, John Paul II asked for a cross. Mokrzycki went to his room and brought back Janina’s crucifix for the pope to venerate.
When the images of John Paul II were broadcast worldwide, the Trafalski family recognized their crucifix. Janina later said that she felt unworthy of the honor, remembering her earlier rebellion against suffering.
The Polish pope died days later. In 2007, Mokrzycki was appointed coadjutor archbishop of Lviv in Ukraine. He took the crucifix with him from Rome.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
According to the Polish Catholic website niedziela.pl, he gave it to his parents, who in turn presented it to Fr. Mieczysław Bizior, who installed it in his church in the village of Kraczkowa in southeastern Poland.
The crucifix is taken around neighboring parishes. Wherever it goes, it helps to inspire an intense atmosphere of prayer.
While John Paul II did not address the crowds on Good Friday 2005, he sent a brief message that was read out by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general of Rome diocese.
The pope said: “I am with you in spirit at the Colosseum, a place that stirs up within me so many memories and emotions, in order to take part in the evocative rite of the Way of the Cross on this Good Friday evening.”
“I join you in the invocation, so rich in meaning: ‘Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi, quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.’ Yes, we adore and bless the mystery of the Cross of the Son of God, because it was from his death that new hope for humanity was born.”
“The adoration of the Cross directs us to a commitment that we cannot shirk: the mission that St Paul expressed in these words: ‘[I]n my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church’ (Col 1: 24).”
“I also offer my sufferings so that God’s plan may be completed and his Word spread among the peoples. I, in turn, am close to all who are tried by suffering at this time. I pray for each one of them.”
He concluded: “On this memorable day of Christ’s crucifixion, I look at the Cross with you in adoration, repeating the words of the liturgy: ‘O crux, ave spes unica!’ Hail, O Cross, our only hope, give us patience and courage and obtain peace for the world!”