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The Pope and Cracow – people, facts and places

07 sierpnia 2002 | 16:49 | Ⓒ Ⓟ

*Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha*

He was a harbinger of the Second Vatican Council and an astute Vatican diplomat. Faced with two totalitarian regimes of Nazism and communism he remained the “unbroken prince,” a symbol of resistance of the whole enslaved nation. He had a special relation with Karol Wojtyła; when visiting a junior high school in Wadowice, Cardinal Sapieha noticed the extraordinary features of the young man who greeted the highly respected Prince of the Church on behalf of his friends. A few years later he ordained Karol Wojtyła to priesthood in the Chapel of the Cracow Archbishop’s Palace.
Cardinal Adam was a descendant of the renowned Sapieha family. He was born on May 14, 1867 in the family property of Krasiczyn.
In 1911 he was ordained bishop of Cracow. As early as World War I his organisational talents became apparent; he set up a Citizens’ Committee, a major charity body which provided help to the poor and to the war victims.
After Poland’s regaining independence in 1918 he made use of his talents in administration, establishing Catholic Action with a view to making laity more prominent in the Church.
Cardinal Sapieha did not succumb to the totalitarian regime, either, when Nazi occupation began in 1939 after Poland was defeated. Secretly, he kept Pope Pius XII informed about the tragic fate of the occupied country and undertook two major rescue projects protecting Jews and Polish Catholics of Jewish origin.
Cardinal Sapieha was equally adamant in contacts with the communist regime, installed by the Red Army in 1944. He realised that the new authorities would soon wage a fierce war on religion. Thanks to his diplomatic efforts Sapieha managed to obtain permission for the publication of the Tygodnik Powszechny weekly, a periodical which was to perform a most substantial role in the regaining of independence of post-war Poland. He would not hear about a compromise with communists, i.e. about an agreement between the Church and the State after a unilateral lift of the Concordate by the communist regime. In his judgement, the Church agreed to be too much dependent on the secular authority. The Metropolitan was universally acclaimed as “the unbroken prince.” He died on July 23, 1951 in Cracow.

*Jerzy Turowicz*
Today’s Pope has for many years been associated with Jerzy Turowicz, editor-in-chief of the weekly catholic newspaper „Tygodnik Powszechny”. Turowicz may even remember Wojtyła from his performances at the Rapsodic Theatre. In 1949 father Wojtyła made his debut in the columns of “Tygodnik” with an article on French priest workers. Later, both in “Tygodnik” and the monthly “Znak”, he published a series of scientific and (under a pen-name) poetry articles. According to Turowicz, “Tygodnik” was the only magazine in the communist world which treated theology seriously. It was in its columns that father Wojtyła read Polish translations of de Lubac, Congar and other theologians who had a significant influence on the shape of the II Vatican Council.
During his stay at Cracow, father, bishop, and later cardinal Wojtyła held the “Tygodnik” and “Znak” circles in great esteem, meeting with them at the archbishop’s residence on Franciszkańska street or at people’s homes. The meetings were organised to mark Christmas holidays (traditional „opłatek” meetings), family celebrations or simply to exchange views. The intellectual atmosphere of the talks concerning the Church, culture and politics suited bishop Wojtyła well and unquestionably influenced the vision of culture presented by him when he became Pope.
The friendships which began during the “Cracow period” have persisted an extraordinarily long time. In 1983 John Paul II started the humanistic seminars that take place every two years at Castel Gandolfo.

*Professor father Józef Tischner*
Professor father Józef Tischner, the philosopher and theologian who died in June 2000, was for many years a friend and intellectual partner for the later Pope. His name become popular after the First “Solidarity” Congress (September 1981) of which he was the chaplain. The Pope’s biographer, George Weigel, shows the intellectual relationship between Tischner’s “Solidarity Ethics” and “Laborem excercens” (September 1981) encyclica.
It was professor father Józef Tischner who organised the Cracow meetings of scientists from different fields attended by cardinal Wojtyla.
After professor Tischner’s death John Paul II recollected that his great friend had “created the foundations for carrying out the idea of dialogue with all people of good will, and also with those who do not experience the mercy of faith”. He also stressed that father Tischner had “created the spiritual basis of solidarity’s ethics, which today is found in the Polish nation’s efforts to achieve democracy and respect for the dignity of all human beings”.

*Cracow Seminary*
Cracow Seminary was founded by Cardinal Bernard Maciejowski in 1601. Currently it is located in a century-old building in Przedzamcze. During the First World War the building was converted into a military hospital, and in the years of Nazi occupation it was used as an SS barracks. In 1954 Seminary authorities provided room in the building to the Faculty of Theology, banned by the communists from the Jagiellonian University.
During World War II Archbishop Adam Sapieha set up a clandestine seminary whose students did not live together. The lectures and exams were taking place in the Archbishop’s Palace. In 1942 Karol Wotyła enrolled in the theology lectures at the seminary. Two years later Prince Metropolitan invited seminarians to his Palace. Student priests returned to the severely damaged seminary building in October 1945. For the past 100 years 2,306 men were ordained to priesthood in the Cracow Seminary

*Synod of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cracow*
The Synod, known also as the Synod of the Cracow Province, comprising the dioceses of Cracow, Częstochowa, Katowice, Kielce, and Tarnów, was convened for the first time after 300 years by the Metropolitan of Cracow, Cardinal Karol Wojtyła in 1973. Work continued for ten years. Before the Synod came to a conclusion, on October 16, 1978 Cardinal Wojtyła was elected Pope and assumed the name of John Paul II. The objective of the Synod of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cracow was to rejuvenate religious fervour in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, first and foremost through the exchange of pastoral experiences. The meetings of the Synod were also attended by members of laity. The final document was adopted on June 7, 1983.
The Synod of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cracow was closed by John Paul II during his second pilgrimage to Poland on June 22, 1983.
One year before the beginning of the Synod of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Cracow a Synod of the Cracow Diocese was inaugurated. It was strictly connected with the seven-year celebrations of the 900th anniversary of St. Stanisław the Bishop’s ministry in the Cracow diocese (1072-1079) and his martyrdom in 1079. The Synod of the Cracow Diocese took place in the years 1972-1979. Its main objective was a well-construed renewal of faith, fully in keeping with the major stipulations of the Second Vatican Council. Other goals of the Synod included reminding the faithful of their direct responsibility for the shape of the contemporary Church. The Synod of the Cracow Diocese was concluded by Pope John Paul II during his first pilgrimage to Poland in 1979.

*The Rhapsodic Theatre*
was established in Cracow by Mieczysław Kotlarczyk in August 1941. Karol Wojtyła was one of its actors. It was at Wojtyła’s invitation that Kotlarczyk moved from Wadowice to Cracow in order to avoid persecution of the Nazi authorities. The first performance, Król Duch by Juliusz Słowacki, was staged in a private apartment and was attended by the actors friends. Rehearsals were held in Karol Wojtyła’s flat, nicknamed „catacombs” by the actors on account of its being located in a basement. During the Nazi occupation the Rhapsodic Theatre gave performances of plays by Słowacki, Wyspiański and Norwid in private homes.
The Theatre made a name for itself for the style of solemn recitation; its repertoire included masterpieces by Polish and foreign playwrights. Altogether it had 70 premieres and over 4,000 performances. The founder and organiser of the Rhapsodic Theatre, Mieczysław Kotlarczyk, died in 1978.

*Jan Tyranowski*
was born in 1901 in Cracow. He worked as an accountant and tailor. He established the so-called Roses of the Living Rosary and animated religious life in the Salesian parish of St. Stanisław Kostka in Dębniki, a district of Cracow. Thanks to Tyranowski Karol Wojtyła and many other young people, such as Fr. Mieczysław Maliński, got familiar with the works of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila.
During the Second World War, in lieu of the Salesian priests arrested by the Nazis, Jan Tyranowski held regular meetings with young people both in the church and at home. It was him who encouraged the future Pope to take up pastoral work and to study philosophy. Many years later the Holy Father would call him „an apostle of God’s greatness.” Already before the Second Vatican Council Jan Tyranowski implemented the Council’s directives as to giving witness to Christ with one’s life and attracting others to God.
He died on March 15, 1947 after a long and severe illness. The diocesan stage of the beatification process of Venerable Jan Tyranowski was concluded on March 15, 2000.

*Wanda PóŁtawska*
During WWII, as a young liaison officer, Wanda Półtawska spent a few years at Ravensbruck concentration camp where she underwent atrocious medical experiments. Father Wojtyła has known Półtawska, after the war a doctor of psychiatry, since the late 40s when as a young priest he was involved in running the academic catholic movement at the Cracow parish of St. Florian. Wanda Półtawska’s knowledge of the human psyche was especially helpful to father Wojtyła while he was working on “Love and Responsibility”, the book in which he presented a series of human love aspects in an innovatory way. When Półtawska developed a dangerous tumour at the start of the 1960’s then bishop Wojtyła wrote to the already famous Italian stigmatist father Pio asking for his prayers. Shortly after an X-ray examination revealed that the tumour had disappeared. John Paul II confessed to George Weigel that he was positive it was a miracle. Doctor Półtawska is a frequent guest of the Holy Father.

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