Francis Reflects on Holy Legacy, ‘Boundless Devotion’ of St. John Paul II

The Pope met Wednesday with pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Kraków ahead of the 40th anniversary of the Polish pope's election Oct. 16.

St. John Paul II blesses the faithful in St. Peter's Square circa 1978.
St. John Paul II blesses the faithful in St. Peter's Square circa 1978. (photo: Vatican Media/CNA)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis recalled the legacy of St. John Paul II Wednesday, while meeting at the Vatican with pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Kraków.

St. John Paul II “sought to ensure that the Church rose up as the guardian of the inalienable rights of man, of the family and of peoples, to be a sign of peace, justice and integral development for the entire human family,” the Pope said Oct. 10 in the Paul VI Hall.

“At the same time, he always underlined the priority of grace and obedience to God’s will, before any human calculation.”

The Polish pilgrimage is in thanksgiving for the life and papacy of St. John Paul II; the 40th anniversary of his election as bishop of Rome will take place Oct. 16.

Born Karol Józef Wojtyła, St. John Paul II served the Archdiocese of Kraków as a priest, auxiliary bishop and ordinary before becoming pope.

“St. John Paul II enriched the universal Church with a great abundance of gifts, which for the most part he had inherited from the treasury of faith and holiness of your land and of your Church,” Pope Francis told the Cracovians.

“He carried in his heart and, so to say, in his flesh, the witness of the saints of Kraków: from St. Stanislaus and St. Jadwiga, queen of Poland, to St. Albert and St. Faustina. From them he learned boundless devotion to God and great sensitivity for every man; devotion and sensitivity that were manifested in his priestly, episcopal and papal ministry.”

The saint “received from God the great gift of knowing how to read the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel, and he made this fruitful to the benefit of the path of his people, of your people, who in their various sufferings have never lost faith in God or fidelity to their own culture, rooted in the Christian spirit,” Francis said.

It was in being faithful to these roots that St. John Paul II led the Church in guarding inalienable rights, he stated.

The Pope said that St. John Paul II’s legacy is “a challenge to be faithful to Christ and to respond with joyful devotion to the call to holiness that the Lord addresses to each and every one of us in our specific personal, family and social situation.”

“From heaven he accompanies your path: the families, the young and grandparents, priests, women religious and all consecrated persons; the most disadvantaged, the suffering. I, too, entrust myself with you to his intercession.”