John Paul II and Solidarity
PR dla Zagranicy
Pope John Paul II and Solidarity
Pope John Paul II's first papal visit to communist Poland in June 1979 paved the way for the Solidarity movement.
Portrait of Pope John Paul II hanging on the Basilica of St Peter's, Vatican, for the late pontiff's canonisation on 27 April. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka
In this audio report on the eve of the late pontiff's canonisation, American translator William Brand reflects on the changes he saw in Krakow, the city where the pope had served as archbishop for almost two decades.
Some 2 million pilgrims from across Poland and beyond descended on Krakow's Blonia Common for the now fabled mass on 10 June 1979.
“The incredible thing throughout that pilgrimage was the sense that the rules had changed,” Brand reflects.
“Things that had seemed impossible were happening all the time.”
Brand was also in Krakow during the the pontiff's second visit to Poland in June 1983, when the country was in the grip of martial law.
“There was this incredible sense of delight and joy as one saw the Solidarity banners being raised,” he remembers.
Irena Urbanska, a former soloist for Polish Radio's choir, had known the Pope personally since the early 1950s, when she was studying in Krakow.
She reflects on the close bonds that Father Karol Wojtyla forged with students at that time.
Report by Nick Hodge