added: 2010-09-09 10:00:00

Cracovia is about the people – John Paul II

John Paul II (1920-2005)

I am overjoyed that I can meet with the representatives of such an illustrious club without which the city of Cracow would not be the same. I am well aware of the fact that during those 100 years the club had its ups and downs. I am very glad to hear that the last few years were marked by success. I would like to wish Cracovia all the best. Let Cracovia show that by shaping the character and teaching noble rivalry and solidarity, sports may epitomize the greatest human and social values. God bless you!

John Paul II during a private audience with Cracovia players and staff, Vatican City, January 2005

Karol Wojtyła was an avid sportsman. He was keen on football – played mainly as a goalkeeper. His nickname was “Martyna” after a famous pre-war footballer Henryk Martyna. Apart from playing football, he used to ski, canoe and hike in the mountains. He was fond of sport in general, appreciated the athletes' work, and many sportsmen would hand over to him their shirts or trophies.

Karol Wojtyła was born in Wadowice on the 18th of May 1920. He was 58 when elected Pope on the 16th of October 1978. He was the first non-Italian Pope in more than 400 years.

John Paul II was an extraordinary man who broke stereotypes, dealt with global problems, remembering of people all around the world. He cared about small communities. During his pilgrimages (almost 200) he visited also those parts of the world where the Catholics are a minority. He taught about the need of dialogue between different religions.

Each of his pastoral trips to Poland was long-awaited and conveyed deeper meaning. The Pope would speak openly telling nothing but the truth – often inconvenient for the local authorities. During his first visit to Poland as a Pope in 1979 he uplifted the nation's spirit by saying: “Let Your Spirit descend and renew the face of the earth, this earth!”. According to many historians it was during this trip when the demise of communism in eastern Europe began.

Masses celebrated by John Paul II were of very unique atmosphere. The meetings with the youth and his ability to reach out to the crowd made every one of those gatherings a one of a kind experience. He would also talk to the crowd from a window at the Bishop's Palace in Cracow – those meetings were shrouded with an unusual aura. Everyone who lived during John Paul II's pontificate remembers him differently but most importantly keeps him in their heart, regardless of their religion or nationality.

The Pope died on the 2nd of June 2005 at 21:37.

He will always be remembered as the most prominent Pole, a great Pope, and to us also as a Cracovia supporter. The gifts given to John Paul II by Pasy are to this day in the Vatican – a diamond club badge, a number 1 shirt with Karol Wojtyła's name on it (Cracovia retired number 1 in his honour), a Kraków szopka, and the team's photo taken with the fans during the New Year's Training.