Karol Jozef Wojtyla who is known to the world as Pope John Paul II was born in Poland on 18th of May 1920. He was the first and the only Polish Pope. Pope John Paul II was a man of very humble beginnings and who could predict that he would emerge as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. He has got infinite achievements in his life time which is bringing him closer and closer to sainthood.
Although the fact that he is the first and only Pope that Poland has produced is enough to make this country and its people proud, there are a few very important reasons that gave Pope John Paul II the position of a Polish hero. If put into simple words the Pope was instrumental in putting an end to communism in Poland and eventually the whole of Europe.
Communism was based on atheistic ideology which tried to curb the rights of the Polish people to follow their faith and had imposed absolute primacy of the ‘law of the market’. The Catholic Church had rejected such totalitarian and atheistic ideologies since the very beginning. Pope John Paul II acted like a catalyst in causing peaceful revolution in Poland. He is also known as the spiritual inspiration behind the downfall of the communist regime. According to Lech Walesa, the founder of ‘Solidarity’ the Pope had given the courage to the people to rise up and stand for themselves.
In the year of 1989, December, Pope John Paul II met President Mikhail Gorbachev, leader of the mighty Soviet Union, and the latter commented that the collapse of the ‘iron curtain’ could not be possible without the Pope’s spiritual guidance. He was also awarded the Medal of Freedom (that is America’s highest civil honor) in June 2004 by President George W Bush. What made Poland and its people proud was the citation that accompanied the medal, which said: ‘The son of Poland, whose principled stand for peace and freedom has inspired millions and helped to topple communism and tyranny’.
The Pope had played a vital role in harmonizing relationship of Christianity with other faith like Judaism and Islam. In fact he was the first Pope in history to enter a mosque. Even after suffering life threatening injuries (after being shot in the year of 1981) the Pope continued fearlessly and full of love and devotion to eradicate misery and tyranny form not only his homeland (Poland) but the whole world also.
People of Cracow, where he served as Arch Bishop for 15 years, he was lovingly called ‘Uncle’, a kind, warm and gentle soul who ‘always had time for his flock’. Although Pope John Paul II has departed for his heavenly abode, people still feel his aura around themselves with artifacts resembling him, the best among which is a 24” bronze statue which beautifully captures every single detail of this great soul.