That is why the detail that was published during the first visit of that pope to Saragossa is not strange to me. He spent the night of November 6-7, 1982, in the archbishop's palace, and there were those who were so kind as to place the portrait of his parents on the bedside table. Whoever it was, I think that the Lord will repay him in spades. It reminds me of Jesus' saying that whoever gives a glass of water to a child will not go unrewarded. It was a detail of tenderness, and above all, of exquisite charity, that continues to challenge me.
Her name was Emilia Kaczorowska. Her image shows a certain resemblance to her son, with a square and massive face, large eyes and a protruding nose. The daughter of poor artisans, her life was a painful one, for she was soon left motherless. She was a woman of strong faith and ardent piety, with a special inclination to the Marian devotions. She never enjoyed good health, but the birth of her son Carol gave her the strength and joy of seeing a healthy and robust child grow up, in contrast to a daughter who six years earlier had died at birth. Emilia had found in a young military man named Karol, who would become a captain, the ideal companion. She was attracted not only by his good manners and politeness but also by his profound mercy. Stationed in the garrison of the small town of Wadowice, Captain Wojtyla had a modest salary and led a somewhat routine life. He spent many hours away from home, although he arrived home in time to share in a peaceful Christian family life in which the prayer and meditation, but also readings on the history and literature of Poland, the homeland that had regained its independence in 1918. As one of the pope's biographers put it, that home was a little Nazareth.
Pope St. John Paul II with his parents
At the age of nine, young Karol, familiarly known as Lolek, will witness the death of his mother. He is forty-five years old and has been the victim of nephritis. The father, who was fifty in 1929, was forced to retire from the army to take care of his young son. There is also an older son of twenty-three, Edmund, who some time before had gone to nearby Krakow to study medicine. This son, stationed in various hospitalsEdmund will make frequent visits to the family home to find his father and brother. However, in 1932, when he was only twenty-six years old, Edmund died of scarlet fever. He had caught it from a sick woman whom he had been determined to cure.
Such was his generous and energetic character, passionately devoted to his vocation as a physician.
Both Karol, father and son, stay in the Wadowice home. The father prepares the meals, takes care of the cleaning and supervises the child's schoolwork. In addition, many rosaries are prayed in that home, a way of getting closer to the heavenly Mother in the absence of the earthly mother. The son first attends a municipal school, and then the city high school. He is an outstanding student in many subjects, especially in religion, and will also be a hard-working soccer goalkeeper, who wins the sympathy of his classmates, among whom there are many Jews. Before the World War IIIn the city, about a third of the city's population was Jewish. The young Karol was impressed by the great care that the Jews put into their religious rites, which sometimes contrasted with empty Christian churches and routine piety. Many years later, when visiting the synagogue in Rome as pope, he would affirm that "the Jews are our elder brothers in the faith".
Antonio R. Rubio Plo
Degree in History and Law
International writer and analyst
@blogculturayfe / @arubioplo
Published in "Church and new evangelization",