Catholic Church of Montreal > Publications > Info Archives > MAY - Canonizations of Pope Jean XXIII and Jean-Paul II

MAY - Canonizations of Pope Jean XXIII and Jean-Paul II

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On April 27, 2014, the Catholic Church celebrated the canonization of two great popes of the last century. One may wonder if traces of these two great men were kept in the Montreal Diocesan Archives. Pope John Paul II was undoubtedly more familiar with Montréal and our Diocesan Church than his predecessor. When thinking about Pope John Paul II and Montreal, the year 1984 immediately comes to mind. It was the first time that a Pontiff had set foot in our city. But few are aware that the last saint canonized by the Church had also visited our diocese in August 1969.

Visiting as the representative of Cardinal Wyszynski, Primate of Poland, for the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Canadian Polish Congress, Karol Wojtyla, then Archbishop of Krakow, was mandated to meet and encourage Polish Catholics from across the country. While in Montréal, Cardinal Wojtyla stayed at the Episcopal Palace and visited our cathedral where he celebrated the Eucharist. A marble plaque in Mary Queen of the World recalls this event. During his stay, the Polish prelate and the then Archbishop of Montreal Paul Grégoire, had the opportunity to discuss together. On that occasion, Cardinal Wojtyla gave our Archbishop a relic of saint Stanislaus, patron of Poland and former bishop of Krakow, destined for a Polish church of our city. The Archbishop of Montreal decided to offer this relic to the oldest Polish community of the diocese: Our Lady of Czestochowa. The document we make public today was given by Karol Wojtyla himself and authenticates the precious gift. The signature of the future Pope and his personal seal as archbishop of Krakow can be seen on the document. An experienced eye can observe that his Cardinal's seal already had many of the components found later on his papal coat of arms. On August 31, 1969, at the end of his visit in our city, Cardinal Wojtyla took the direction of Ottawa to continue his Canadian tour.

On October 16, 1978, almost a decade later, Cardinal Pericle Felici pronounced the Habemus papam from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica. Hearing the name of the chosen cardinal, the world wondered about the identity of this first Polish Pope. However, unlike many of their counterparts, the bishops of Montreal knew who the new Pontiff was because they had met and welcomed him in 1969. They will have the honor of hosting him again, this time as pope, in September 1984.

On the agenda:

In September, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the visit of Pope John Paul II to Canada, we will offer you the opportunity to discover an unpublished document from our Archives that evokes the second journey of this great saint among us.  

On May 30, at the Diocesan Patronal Feast of the Archdiocese, Archbishop Christian Lépine will preside a Thanksgiving Mass for the Canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II.


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