Bishops entrust Polish Church to Mary in St. John Paul II centenary year

Wadowice20200615 1 Poland’s bishops celebrate Mass at the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wadowice June 15, 2020. Courtesy of the Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference

Bishops entrusted the Church in Poland to the Virgin Mary on Monday as they marked the centenary of the birth of St. John Paul II.

The bishops made the act of entrustment June 15 at the Sanctuary of the Bernardine Fathers in Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, southern Poland. 

St. John Paul II was a frequent visitor to the sanctuary, which dates back to 1601 and is known as "the Polish Jerusalem" because of its topographical similarities to the Holy City.

John Paul II promoted Marian devotion vigorously throughout his life, adopting the personal motto "Totus tuus," signifying his consecration to Mary. 

The bishops made the act of entrustment during a two-day celebration of the birth of the Polish pope, who was Bishop of Rome from 1978 to 2005. 

The 100th anniversary of John Paul II's birth, which fell May 18, has been marked by events in Rome and Poland.

Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the tomb of his predecessor and sent a message to young people in Kraków May 18, calling St. John Paul II "an extraordinary gift of God to the Church and to Poland."

The Pope emeritus Benedict XVI hailed St. John Paul II as a "liberating restorer of the Church" in a letter marking the centenary.

On Sunday, June 14, Poland's bishops celebrated Mass at the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II in Kraków, built at the site of stone quarries where the future pope labored during the Second World War.

In his homily, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, the saint's long-time personal secretary, said: "John Paul II, the Bishop of Rome, is for us a beautiful and strong sign of the pastoral ministry of the bishop in the Church." 

After the Mass, the Polish bishops attended a concert with Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, apostolic nuncio to Poland, featuring works by Mozart, Bach, Handel, and Pergolesi.

On Monday, the bishops visited Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, then celebrated Mass in the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wadowice, where Karol Wojtyła was baptized June 20, 1920. 

In his homily, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops' conference, said: "St. John Paul II was a great gift from God to Poland, Europe, the world, and the Church." 

Describing the saint as "a conscience to the world," he continued: "The Holy Father taught how to live -- and lived as he taught. He not only spoke about prayer, but really prayed. Not only did he call for loving everyone, but he loved everyone -- and this could be seen by every word he said and every gesture he made." 

"He did not mechanically repeat the words of Christ about forgiveness, but he did forgive the one who made an attempt on his life."

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