“A chapel of consequence” by George Weigel

Chapel of Franciszkanska Street, Old Town, Krakow, Poland

The Thechapel in the archbishop’s residence in Kracow—which everyone calls by its street name, “Franciszkanska 3”—has witnessed a lot of modern Church history. Here, clandestine seminarians watched the city’s heroic archbishop, Adam Stefan Sapieha, put the terrible problems of the long, dark night of Occupation before the Lord, every night during World War II. Here, the worker-student-poet-playwright who would become pope, Karol Wojtyla, was ordained by Cardinal Sapieha on Nov. 1, 1946, beginning a priestly ministry that would bend history in a more humane direction by transforming consciences.
Here, in his own years as archbishop of Kracow, Wojtyla began his days with prayer and Mass. And here he returned after breakfast for two hours of intellectual work—preparing sermons, articles, books—at a desk set up so that he could think and write before the Blessed Sacrament. Here, Wojtyla celebrated the baptisms of his friends’ children. Here, he prayed with his collaborators in running one of the world’s most impressive diocesan implementations of Vatican II.

Here, he thought out new pastoral initiatives for a society stifled by totalitarianism. Here, the man who would shortly be elected John Paul II came, immediately after receiving the shocking telephone call announcing the death of John Paul I—and here he prayed, we might imagine, that he would come home from the impending conclave. Read more…

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