A Fusion of Krakow and Pope John Paul II

City of Saints

Living inside the biblical story and the story of salvation history. That was the desire of Pope John Paul II, according to New York Times bestselling author George Weigel. In City of Saints, Weigel creates a beautiful spiritual and pictorial travelogue of Krakow, the “city where the twentieth century happened.” (p. 1)

Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II, moved to Krakow in 1938 and lived in Krakow for 40 years as a student, actor, laborer, seminarian, poet, playwright, sportsman, member of the Nazi resistance, priest  and bishop.

“Poland’s soul had everything to do with Poland’s survival, in Karol Wojtyla’s view. … Poland was a natural invasion route, a battlefield-in-waiting.” (p. 67) Sadly, Krakow became that battlefield as Jews, priests, and university professors were shot or shipped by rail  to Dachau or Auschwitz, the first concentration camp in the area.

Through beautiful photographs, readers are transported to the heart of Poland and to the foundation of Pope John Paul II’s story.

Karol Wojtyla valued the intellectual mind, labored in a quarry, carried images of persecution and evil in his memory, and perceived history as His-story “through lenses ground by biblical faith.” (p. 117)

Pope John Paul II was key to the collapse of the European communism. Pope John Paul II spent “Nine Days” in Poland, June 2 through June 10, 1979. In those days, he did not speak about politics, economics or communism.  Instead, he “preached and taught a great lesson in national dignity and led a historic reclamation of national identity.” (p. 252)

“You are not who they say you are. Permit me to remind you who you really  are. Reclaim that identity – own the truth of it – and you will find tools of resistance  they cannot match.” (p. 252)

History, architecture, art, and photographs intersect spirituality in this book. Weigel has even included a Polish Pronunciation guide.

My prayer:

Father, thank You for George Weigel and the story of Krakow and its people. Thank You for all the people who unswervingly served You in the midst of adversity, persecution, and tragedy. Bless Krakow with the full knowledge of You. Bless the visitors to Krakow with a prompting to turn to You. Praise You, Father. Amen

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books for my honest review.

6 thoughts on “A Fusion of Krakow and Pope John Paul II

  1. Hi Kitt, I’m speculating, but here are my thoughts. Krakow was a religious (Christian and Jewish) and intellectual community. On page 35, Weigel says that “Biblical faith, at the center of a rich culture, could be a force for human liberation.” During the War, the Nazis killed the academics, priests, and Jews, the foundation of their culture. During the Nine Days, He said, “You must be strong, dear brothers and sisters. You must be strong with the strength that comes from faith. … You must be faithful … You must be strong with the strength of hope, hope that brings the perfect joy of life and does not allow us to grieve the Holy Spirit.” The Nazis kept bulldozing a cross, and the Polish kept erecting it. They were a strong people, who were grieving from all the death and persecution. Their university was devastated, their churches and synagogues were weeping. They needed hope and encouragement to be strong and resist. The book taught me a lot about the war that I did not know. It also gave me insight into my Catholic friends. May the Lord richly bless you.

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    • Hi Karen,
      I began a response a while ago, I will finish it now :). In receiving the notice of your new post I was prompted.
      Thank you for answering. The more I comprehend about human history and this current world, the more it compels me to believe God and His word as I can perceive no sense in life, history, or current events unless viewed Biblically.
      Yesterday ironically an atheist client posed a question about the elevated evil current events and agreed with my suggestion of ‘spiritual warfare.’ (At the time, I did not feel led to reflective questioning as to how she could considering her world view.)
      My gratefulness continues to grow for what Christ accomplished on the cross and the covering of His righteousness for all eternity. How miraculous that in all the turmoil He continues to reach out to those open to His offering of a spiritual peace that passes understanding for those who trust Him.

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      • Kitt, Yes, indeed! I think 10,000 years into eternity, we will still be marveling at the depth and height and width of the great, great love Jesus has for us that He would take our sins and the sins of the world upon Himself and bear that shame all for us, AND that He is in heaven and in us now at this very minute making intercession for us and holding the world together as well as keeping the church.
        I do believe that we are in the last days and that the wars, persecutions, rumors of wars and earthly storms and earthquakes are birth pangs of what is yet to come. And in all of this, we are privileged to have our master say, Be of peace and good cheer, “I have overcome.” Even so, Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.
        Kitt, May the Lord greatly bless you and keep you in the knowledge of His fullness and His great love for you. Karen

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        • Thank you Karen, Ditto to you too 🙂
          I quote what I hear Jan Markell repeat often, “Things are not falling apart, they are falling into place.”
          I can only imagine that something like this world, as we are with the Lord in eternity, we will be consistently and continually awed by what He has created for us!!!

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  2. I have a question about, “You are not who they say you are. Permit me to remind you who you really are. Reclaim that identity – own the truth of it – and you will find tools of resistance they cannot match.” (p. 252)
    What was the identity and truth for the Polish folks that Pope John Paul 2 was referring to that could be the tools that ‘they’ could not match?

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