Tens of thousands of pilgrims have arrived in Rome for today’s ceremony to mark the beatification of the late Pope John Paul II. It’s a special day for millions of Catholics all over the world, but its particularly special for Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Kraków and former personal secretary to Pope John Paul II.
In 1963, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Karol Wojtyla, who would later become Pope John Paul II. As the pontiff’s personal secretary, Cardinal Dziwisz served the Pope on all of his foreign pilgrimages and he was at his bedside on 2 April, 2005, the day he died.
Now, Cardinal Dziwisz is adding his support to the Polish Finalist in the New7Wonders of Nature campaign, the Masurian Lake District. In a letter addressed to the organizers of the “Masuria – the Wonder of Nature” campaign, the Archbishop of Kraków wrote:
“Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, now the blessed John Paul II, fell in love with Masuria. While in Masuria, he took rest, regained strength, enjoyed the beauty of the region’s nature and prayed. It is thanks to him that the ‘Circle’ (young people for whom he was a father and a mentor) also fell in love with Masuria. I sincerely wish Masuria the best and hope that the region will be granted the status of one of the New7Wonders of Nature.”
During a recent meeting with Jacek Palkiewicz, the Ambassador of Masuria, Cardinal Dziwisz recalled the late Pope’s love for the Masurian Lake District:
“I have admired the Land of a Thousand Lakes many times,” the cardinal said. “While on board of the plane, accompanying the Holy Father, I admired the richness of nature and enjoyed the tranquillity of the lakes and forests in the region. You are doing a great job promoting the region. Masuria has a chance of becoming an export product, an internationally recognized brand,” he added.
Referring to Cardinal Dziwisz’s relationship with Pope John Paul II, Jacek Palkiewicz said: “He was an integral part of the pontificate. For 40 years he accompanied John Paul II like a shadow and remained the same goodhearted, respectful person, never showing self-importance. I am extremely glad that such an eminent church dignitary appreciates the beauty of nature in Masuria.”