Bishops October Popes Saints

Pope Saint John Paul II

Feast Day: October 22

Today we are feasting with… Pope Saint John Paul II.

Saint Pope John Paul II

To celebrate his feast day, we are making Kremówka Papieska. This Polish dessert is said to have been a favorite of Pope Saint John Paul II. Since the Papal flag of Pope John Paul II contains a cross with the letter M beneath it, we decided to decorate this cake with the same emblem as a way to pay homage to this great saint.

How to make Kremówka Papieska

A Priest Underground

Karol Jozef Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland.

Unfortunately, Karol’s early life was filled with suffering and loss. His devoutly religious father raised him after his mother, brother, and sister had died. Still, he grew to be studious, athletic, and even enjoyed acting in the local theater. Then came the German occupation of Poland during WWII; forcing the young men to work in quarries and factories. 

When he was 22, an underground seminary admitted Karol so he could join the priesthood. He had to study in secret due to the persecution of Catholics during the German occupation. He also continued to work, so as not to draw any unwanted attention to himself. 

During this time, Karol nearly died on several occasions. This included a car accident, and evading the Gestapo as they were rounding up young men to avoid a Polish uprising. The Gestapo nearly captured Karol before he escaped to the safety of the Archbishop’s Palace.

On November 1, 1946, Karol finally became a priest. As a priest, groups of local students often joined Father Wojtyla for hikes, skiing, cycling, camping, and kayaking trips. These camping trips included, prayer, outdoor Mass, and theological discussions. In fact, the camping trips were actually a disguise for religious retreats. This helped Father Wojtyla minister to the youth without arousing the suspicions of the communist regime.

His Holiness, Pope John Paul II

Father Wojtyla continued his theological studies and was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow in 1958, and subsequently archbishop in 1964. Pope Paul VI made him a cardinal in 1967, and in 1978, Father Wojtyla became the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.

As the leader of the Catholic Church, he traveled the world, visiting more than 100 countries to spread his message of faith and peace. He inspired the people of Poland, and all of Europe, to rise up above their oppression, and his efforts eventually led to the fall of Communism in these regions. In 1981, an assassin shot John Paul II twice in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. Fortunately, he was able to recover from his injuries and later forgave his attacker.

World Youth Day

In 1984, John Paul II began World Youth Day, an annual gathering of youth and young adults for prayer, worship, and celebration of the Catholic faith.  John Paul II left a legacy for the youth in his institution of World Youth Day, which has faithfully continued, carrying on the hope for the youth of the world, inviting them, and commissioning them as Christ’s disciples to be faithful living witnesses.

Pope Saint John Paul II’s amazing life story clearly shows that God always had a grand plan for him. He died on April 2, 2005, at the age of 84.

On July 5, 2013, waving the usual five-year waiting period, the Vatican announced that the Roman Catholic Church would declare Pope John Paul II a saint. His canonization ceremony took place on April 27, 2014.

Pope Saint John Paul’s feast day is October 22. He is the patron of World Youth Day.

Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us!

How to make Kremówka Papieska