12 March 2020, The Tablet

First steps to sainthood for parents of St John Paul II

First steps to sainthood for parents of St John Paul II

St John Paul II, pictured here with Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski of Poland in 1978.
CNS/Arturo Mari)

The Archbishop of Krakow, Marek Jedraszewski, announced on Wednesday 11 March that  his archdiocese has opened the cause for beatification of the parents of Saint John Paul II.

Having received Vatican approval, the Archbishop signed an edict approving the cause on March 2, following the endorsement of the proposal by the Polish bishop’s conference in October 2019.

If the cause is successful, it could culminate in John Paul II’s father, Karol Wojtyla, and mother, Emilia Wojtyla (nee Kaczorowska), being declared saints.

Catholics in Krakow have been asked to provide the diocesan curia with any documentation or correspondence pertaining to Karol and Emilia by 7 May.

Karol Wojtyla, a Polish army officer, was born in 1879; his wife, Emilia Kaczorowska, was born in 1884. The pair were married in Krakow on February 10, 1906. Karol and Emilia had three children, of which Saint John Paul II, born in 1920, was the youngest. One daughter, Olga, died in infancy; the oldest surviving sibling, Edmund, died in 1932 at the age of 26.

John Paul II’s father, Karol Wojtyla, and mother, Emilia Wojtyla. Credit: Archidiecezja Krakowska

The couple were practising Catholics, and were influential in their son’s spiritual and intellectual development. Notably, they strongly rejected anti-semiticism, an uncommon position amongst Polish Catholics of their generation.

Emilia Kaczorowska, a devout Catholic, the fifth of thirteen children and a graduate of a convent school, died of a heart attack and liver failure in 1929, when Karol junior was eight years old.

According to the Bishop’s conference, Karol Wojtyla senior, who raised Karol junior alone for twelve years, was a hard-working and conscientious father, who took a keen interest in his son’s spiritual life.

“John Paul II repeatedly mentioned that he had seen his father kneeling and praying even at night. It was his father who taught him the prayer to the Holy Spirit which accompanied him to the end of his life,” the conference said.

Karol Wojtyla senior died in 1941, of an apparent heart attack; an event that is said to have strongly influenced his youngest son’s decision to enter seminary.

If the couple are found to have lived a life of heroic virtue, they will received the title of "venerable". After that, a proven miracle is necessary for beatification, and a second miracle  for canonisation, although this last requirement can be dispensed with by the Pope.


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