In Castel Gandolfo, not only religious songs were sung. When to the summer residence, friends from Poland were coming; it was the tradition of long summer evenings to jointly sing patriotic songs. The Holy Father never cried, says the Archbishop, but a few times, I have seen him emotionally moved with tears in his eyes, also at the time when we were signing these songs.
– What songs?
– “The red poppies” (Czerwone maki), “The little war” (Wojenko, wojenko). These, he liked the most. But, we sang many other songs. When he did not know the lyrics, then he was getting the song-book.
– Did the Holy Father himself willingly sing?
– Yes, with eager and loud. This was giving him strength. And I need to say, that he was the one who did not need a song-book. He knew all songs by heart.
– Were you singing for a long time in the evenings?
– For a long time, sometimes for hours. The Holy Father liked it a lot and often was very touched by them. (…) He was a great patriot, a great one. He loved Poland and he missed it a lot. He had a dream, which did not come true…He wanted to go again to the Bieszczady Mountains. As a young priest, he did all hiking paths there. He wanted so much to go back there. When I came to Castel Gandolfo for the first time and for the first time we went for a walk, the Holy Father told me: “I visited every corner over here. However, on the beginning, I was also not able to be myself here. I was missing my mountains, I was missing Bieszczady Mountains. I would like to go back there so much …”
– Why he was not able to do it?
– This topic was coming often in the conversations with Archbishop Michalik. However, the material conditions, infrastructure, did not allow to host the Holy Father over there. Him and the entire retinue. Too bad, as he really wanted to go. More often people mention John Paul II’s love to Tatra Mountains and Tatra Highlanders. He also mentioned them a lot. He admired their strength of spirit and fidelity. For a long time he was very emotional recalling the Holy Mass and the Highlanders’ oath made at the Wielka Krokiew in 1997. When they were singing “Highlander do you not regret” („Góralu, czy ci nie żal…”) with great difficulty he was holding back his tears. To Tatra Mountains – already as the Pope – he was coming back. To Bieszczady Mountains – no. Maybe, also for that reason he missed them so much. To the highest peak in Bieszczady Mountains, he made on August 5, 1955. On the higher peak of Tarnica, there is a cross commemorating Karol Wojtyła’s trip. Such, unfulfilled Polish dream… to go back to the old Bieszczady Mountains’ hiking paths.
With the consent of Archbishop Mokrzycki “He liked Tuesdays the most”
M Publisher, Kraków 2008