He ‘discovered’ Rome already as a young man, just after his ordination to the priesthood. He was sent there by his Archbishop to finish his studies. Karol Wojtyła quickly adjusted, understood its spirit, and loved it, absorbing its universal dimension, which sunk into his heart for good. When he was elected into the Peter’s seat, he felt as a man from Rome. He did not feel as a monarch or a head of the State, but as a Bishop of Rome (…) For John Paul II the Bishop of Rome function was not only a title, but it was a true service, fulfillment of tasks related to this function. It was visible from the beginning. During the first meeting with the Council of Bishops, he announced that he will visit ‘his’ parishes.
On December 3, 1978, just forty-eight days after his election, he went to the St. Francis Xavier Church in Garbatella district of the city, near EUR. Karol Wojtyła was attending this Church during his studies in Rome. A bus was picking-up priests and seminarians from various countries who were studying in the Eternal City from different Papal institutes (Karol Wojtyła was staying in the Belgian College). The bus was taking them to different parishes and around 9 a.m., they were ready to provide assistance in the parish’s pastoral care. In the afternoon, the same bus was taking them again back to their places. Karol Wojtyła was assigned to the St. Francis Xavier Church, where with a little broken Italian he was confessing parishioners and faithful people.
Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz “Testimony”