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ohn Paul II loved Poland and her inhabitants. He made no distinctions between them, he loved the dockers as much as the intellectuals, the teachers as much as the factory workers, the young as much as the old. But it’s true that he had a special place in his heart for academics. That’s why he had so many meetings with them, that’s why he begged them earnestly never to forget their duty to foster the spirit of patriotism. For they are the ones whose task it is to engage in scholarly research on the quest for truth and for the nurturing of the national culture; and that is why he wanted them to cherish and promote a love of their country that stands on guard of the national heritage but does not bar the gates, but instead builds bridges in order to share that heritage with others and thereby increase it. On 11th September 2000 he told several hundred members of the Jagiellonian University that Poland needed enlightened patriots, people ready to make sacrifices for the love of their country, and to engage in the creative exchange of its spiritual goods with the nations of a uniting Europe. With the Holy Father’s meetings with representatives of Poland’s academia in mind, along with those words he said on the mission facing every Polish teacher, especially every Polish academic tutor – I embarked on an attempt to draw up an outline of the history of John Paul II’s relations with Poland’s academia. I leave it to my readers to judge whether my attempt has been successful.

Franciszek Ziejka

Fotografia Felici s.n.c.

From the introduction to his book Jan Paweł II i polski świat akademicki, Kraków: Universitas, 2014

Rectors of Polish colleges and universities on a visit to John Paul II; Castel Gandolfo, 30th August 2001


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