While shaping the history of the Church and the world, Pope John Paul II lived his daily life among individuals who knew him closely as a spiritual father, a colleague, and a friend. They both served and were served by the most influential saint of the twentieth century.
Polish journalist Wlodzimierz Redzioch, a longtime employee of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, interviewed almost two dozen men and women for this book. Among them are lifelong friends who knew the pope (as Karol Wojtyla) in Kraków and people who cared for him during his pontificate, such as his physician and his secretary. Also here recalling their memories of the pope are some of those who worked beside him inside the Vatican—a papal photographer, a papal spokesman, and curial officials, including the German cardinal who became his successor, Joseph Ratzinger.
All of those interviewed tell remarkable stories about Pope John Paul II—beginning with his courageous witness in Communist Poland and his important participation in the Second Vatican Council, continuing through his election to the papacy and the challenges of his pontificate, and ending with the sufferings of his final years. The process of his beatification and canonization is also discussed.
Through these previously unpublished stories and anecdotes, a composite portrait emerges of a prayerful and thoughtful man with heroic faith, hope, and charity. Capable of discussing, listening, and delegating, John Paul II was also a decisive leader who unabashedly defended the Catholic faith. With his natural flair for friendship and his gifts of joy and humor, he had a tremendous impact on the world because he deeply touched the hearts of countless people everywhere.