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.”