With highlanders he always caught a second breath

In the apartment Christmas trees were standing in every room.  In the library, and in the bedroom, in the refectory, everywhere – says the Archbishop.  – There was a silver fir in the chapel, one or two.  Silver fir as it stays fresh for a longer time – he explains.  But spruce trees smelled nicer.  The Holy Father preferred spruce trees.  They were losing needles a lot; they were already dry, but we kept them until February 2nd; always; even if they were already without needles.  The Archbishop recalls that a week before Christmas, the smell of the spruce trees was everywhere.  You could feel that Christmas is very close.  The giving of the Christmas trees was already a great, highly anticipated event.  The highlanders were coming for the Christmas wafer meeting.  They were bringing gifts to the Vatican: traditionally baked bread, homemade cold cuts, cakes, sometimes Christmas ornaments.  Everything was so fresh and delicious – recalls the Archbishop.  It was a solid piece of Poland; country that the Holy Father missed so much.  With highlanders he always caught a second breath.  When they were breaking Christmas wafer, when they were singing Christmas carols together, it was visible and you could feel it, that they have the same soul and they have the same rhythm in it.

The former secretary says that Christmas trees came from Zakopane, from Krzeptówki. They were brought by bus. They were cut trees; very beautiful, because the highlanders took care of the fact to bring to the Pope the most beautiful trees.

With the permission of Archbishop Mieczysław Mokrzycki, “A place for everybody”

‘Znak’ Publishing House, Krakow 2013