John Paul II Foundation

Regular day of the Pope – part. II

At 11 a.m. beside Wednesdays, when the general audiences were taking place, private and official visits were held. Private guests or groups attended the official visits. Bishops, the heads of State or heads of Government, representatives of the world of culture, distinguished guests from various countries. At the beginning of the pontificate, the official visits were ongoing sometimes until 2:30 p.m. The Pope was welcoming everybody, never interrupted somebody’s talks, allowed the person sitting in front of him to say everything what he/she had in the heart. Then, with the passing years, the visits have been shortened. The lunch time was approaching. John Paul II always invited other people for a lunch. During that time, he was able to learn what is going on in the world and in Christian communities. (…) Most often the Pope listened or asked questions, he was obtaining information about the specific situation or a problem. During meals, he was sitting with his back toward kitchen, by one of the long sides of the rectangular table. If there were two or three guests, then they were sitting on the opposite side. In case of a greater number of guests, they were sitting also at the left and right side of the table, where usually personal secretaries were sitting. (…) Mostly, we were eating Italian dishes. We had pasta, following by meat with vegetables and for drinks water and a dash of red wine. In the evenings, we had some soup and fish. Only on a special occasion we were able to enjoy Polish dishes and then, sisters were able to show off: for a first meal there was red borsch or a different soup, for the second meal famous pork chop with potatoes and a salad, then a cake, poppy seed cake or a cheese cake. The Pope always had small portions, but he tried everything what was served. He used to that approach since his youth and the war time, when the main problem was to find a piece of dry bread or a few potatoes. Since that time, Karol Wojtyła was not too particular about food. However, there was something that he liked a lot: sweets, especially Italian…and coffee. He had a cup of coffee in the morning and in the afternoon. With passing years, the Holy Father needed a longer rest after lunch, a rest that was accompanied with a time for prayers. Indeed, whenever it was possible, until his death, he was going to a terrace in summer time as well as in winter. It was his favorite place. He was stopping, contemplating, in front of various paintings, especially in front of a small altar with the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. He always prayed the entire Rosary, his beloved prayer…. Every Thursday, he celebrated the Holy Hour and on Fridays – the Stations of the Cross, regardless of the place where he was at that time, also in a plane or in a helicopter, as for example, during the flight to Galilee. For him, a Mass, the Breviary prayers, frequent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, meditation, prayers, weekly confessions, religious practice (until late age he practiced strict fasting) were the fundamental elements of his spiritual life, that means his continuous presence in closeness of God. I would like to say that it has nothing to do with unhealthy devotion. He was in love with God. He lived with God. Each day he started a new. Always finding new word to pray and talk with God.
Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz – “Testimony”