Jean Paul II

The Pope was Jean-Paul 2nd, not John 23rd. I have corrected it on the blog. It was an invitation of the early eighties from colleagues of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow. One of them was a God-daughter of the Pope, or Bishop of Rome. Jean-Paul 2nd was also a poet and was ordained Priest in Krakow. He became St John-Paul the Great to the Catholics, and Protestants and agnostics like myself recognized that he was of exceptional ability. I got along with the Irish Catholics in Dublin very well, and also get along with the Ulster Protestants very well. I remember that Jean-Paul 2nd was a very human being. On one occasion he started talking about a young friend of his in Krakow who had died, a young lady he had known apparently before he was ordained. He suddenly stopped, and covered his eyes with his hand for a very long time before he could continue. Being brought up as a Welsh speaking Baptist, I often wondered how the Catholics decided who was to become a saint, because saints were always abstract. I think that it is a process based on magnetism of character. St. Francis of Assisi was another example, canonized only two years after his death in 1226 (Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, informally known as Francesco). As recounted by Kenneth Clark in “Civilization”, the Franciscan ideal of absolute poverty did not survive for very long after Francis died, and they were persecuted as heretics for a long time. The Church of St Francis in Assisi is one of the greatest works of art in the world.


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