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Swiadectwo - "The Testimony"
Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz describes his 40 years as personal secretary to the Pope John Paul II, who died at age 84 in 2005.  231 Pages, Polish Language text.  Published 2007. The Pope's personal secretary for 30 years

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ISBN: 9788392288213

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The Pope's personal secretary for 30 years, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz recounts stories of Pope John Paul II.  Only available in Polish.

WARSAW, Poland: The late Pope John Paul II slipped away from his Swiss Guards to go skiing more than 100 times in the early years of his 26-year papacy, the pontiff's longtime personal secretary says in a book released in his native Poland.

It was hard at first for John Paul, an avid sportsman, to adjust to the confinement of the papacy, so he made informal "escapes" with his closest friends -- three other Polish prelates, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz says in his book, titled "Swiadectwo" ("The Testimony.")

John Paul made his first such outing two years into his papacy, on Jan. 2, 1981, setting out from the papal vacation residence at Castel Gandolfo in the car of the Rev. Jozef Kowalczyk "in order not to draw the attention of the Swiss Guards," who are charged with the pope's safety.

Kowalczyk, now papal nuncio to Poland, was driving; next to him was Rev. Tadeusz Rakoczy, "with a newspaper spread out pretending he was reading in order to 'hide' the Holy Father who was sitting in the back seat," Dziwisz wrote.

Kowalczyk "drove very carefully, respecting the speed limits and slowing down at crossings. You can imagine what would have happened if we had an accident or the car broke down."

They stopped at a small ski lift near the town of Ovindoli, where only a few people were skiing. John Paul joined them, unrecognized.

On the way back, the beaming pope exclaimed: "We did it!"

On many other skiing trips, the pope "behaved like an ordinary skier. He was dressed like the others, in a skiing suit, a woolen hat and sunglasses. He would stand in line with the others, but for security reasons, one of us would be in front, another one behind him. He used a ski pass," said Dziwisz, his closest aide and now the archbishop of Krakow.

"It seems hard to imagine, but no one recognized him. Who could suspect that the pope went skiing?"

Neither Vatican authorities nor journalists knew of the escapes, numbering more than 100, Dziwisz says.

John Paul, elected in 1978, did much to change the ossified routine of the papacy.

On one occasion, a boy of about 10 stopped on the slope by the Rev. Rakoczy and glanced at a skier approaching them.

He froze for a moment and then cried out: "Pope, pope!"

Saving the situation, Rakoczy replied: "'What are you saying, silly? Hurry down, after your friends."

The papal party then left.

On later trips, they took Vatican police officers with them.

Dziwisz's book is based on conversations with Italian journalist Gian Franco Svidercoschi. It came out in Italy on Wednesday under the title "A Life with Karol."

Dziwisz describes his 40 years as personal secretary to the pope, born Karol Wojtyla. John Paul II died at age 84 in 2005.

Dziwisz says John Paul lived very modestly.

"He had nothing and never asked for anything," he wrote. "He did not deal with money and never received any 'salary' from the Vatican."

His meals were usually Italian dishes, but he especially liked Italian sweets and cakes.

"Every night, before sleep, he would look from his bedroom window at Rome, in a sea of lights, and bless it."
  • Hardcover
  • 231 pages
  • Polish Language Text only
  • Size 5-1/2" x 8.75" - (14cm x 22cm)

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