When he stood at the side of the Pope, the Holy Father was no longer healthy or strong. He had six hospital stays and the Parkinson’s disease was more and more signs. It was more and more difficult to manage shaking hands, to walk with his strength. He more often used a cane and in the recent months he used a wheelchair. Besides, in the year 1996, in the first year of Archbishop Mokrzycki’s service, John Paul II went to the clinic due to his appendicitis.
– How as it? Did the Holy Father complain about pain?
– Yes, he was saying: “I feel pain, something needs to be done.” We went to do tests to the clinic in Albano. Over there doctors confirmed appendicitis. On October 8th, an operation took place at the Gemelli clinic. The Holy Father took everything with a great humbleness. He listened to the doctors and all his suffering he offered to the Mother of God.
– In this suffering and visits to the Gemelli clinic he was already experienced…
– Not to mention the first ones, after the assassination attempt, which almost took his life and impacted his health… four years before the appendicitis, a tumor of the intestine was removed. I remember how before Angelus, the Holy Father said then: “I would like to confess to you. I am going to the clinic. Pray for me.” He did not want to hide anything; with humbleness he was asking for prayers.
– Was he afraid?
– I do not think so. He had profound faith and trust in the will of God, he had total devotion. Before operations, he was praying for a long time in the hospital chapel. Then, he celebrated a Mass over there, after which he was ready.
– Did he after each operation quickly return to shape?
– Removal of the appendicitis was a routine operation. Moreover, the Holy Father at that time had a really strong organism. Unfortunately, not as strong, as his secretary would like to see, as we all would like to see. In the same year, at Christmas, John Paul II had to stop his blessing Urbi et Orbi for a moment. He did not feel well. The world has not stopped yet, but it started to get used to the weakness and old age of the Pope. The Pope had to get used to it also although it was not easy for him. The left hand was shaking more and more and he wanted so badly to have it under control. When he could not, he struck the chair handrail; in a desperate gesture of protest.
Archbishop Mokrzycki “He liked Tuesdays the most”
M Publisher, Kraków 2008