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.