100 years ago, on 20 June 2020, Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II, received the sacrament of baptism at the baptismal font in the Chapel of the Holy Family in the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wadowice. “The day of baptism should be celebrated no less than the day of birth” – he said as Pope.
“With a deep reverence I kiss the threshold of the house of God – the parish church of Wadowice – and in it the baptismal font at which I was implanted in Christ and received into the community of His Church” – said Pope John Paul II on June 16, 1999, coming to Wadowice Basilica.
The celebration of the 100th anniversary of John Paul II’s baptism is this year combined with the 100th anniversary of his birth. Karol Wojtyła was born on 18 May 1920 in his family home in Wadowice at 5 p.m., while the May devotion was held in the parish church.
Karol Wojtyła spent the first eighteen years of his life in Wadowice. “It was here, in this town of Wadowice, that it all began. And life began, and school began, my studies began, and theatre began, and priesthood began” – said Pope John Paul II in 1999.
It was in Wadowice, but also in Cracow and Kalwaria Zebrzydowska – places most connected with Karol Wojtyła – that this year’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Polish Pope took place with the participation of the Polish Bishops’ Conference and the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland. This anniversary was also commemorated by Pope Francis when he celebrated the Eucharist at the tomb of St. John Paul II in the Vatican Basilica on his birthday. In turn, Pope em. Benedict XVI issued a special letter on this occasion, emphasizing that John Paul II always indicated God’s mercy.
The 100th anniversary of the birth of John Paul II was also celebrated with the international social media campaign #ThankYouJohnPaul2. Thousands of people from Poland, Italy, Germany, USA, Canada, France, Spain, Portugal, Great Britain, Russia, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Japan, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Israel, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, have published photos, videos and memories with St. John Paul II.
But this is not the end of the anniversary events. On Sunday, 21 June this year, at 8 p.m. European time, the John Paul II Memorial Concert will take place, in which 40 artists from all over the world will present masterpieces of classical and sacred music. The event was originally intended to take place at the Lincoln Center in New York, but due to the epidemic, it has been realized online and will be available at www.jp2concert.com. The concert was held under the patronage of the President of the Polish Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz.
Pope Francis repeatedly stressed the value and importance of baptism in the life of a Christian. “Baptismal promises must be repeated almost every day so that our consciousness can be permeated by the presence of Christ” – he said during the General Audience on April 11, 2018. “Baptism endows the child with the strength of the Holy Spirit: the Spirit that will defend and assist each of them throughout life” – he stressed on this year’s feast of the Baptism of the Lord.
Press Office of the Polish Bishops’ Conference