More than forty years ago, Cardinal Karol Wojtyła from Poland was introduced to the world as the third bishop of Rome in one year, taking the name of John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II would serve as pope for over 26 years, the second-longest papacy ever. From the first days of his papacy to the end of his life, the Knights of Columbus had a strong relationship with this modern-day saint.
Here are 10 facts about that dynamic relationship:
John Paul II wrote a handwritten letter to the Knights of Columbus in 2002 that read, “As long as I have breath within me I shall cry out: Peace, in the name of God.” It was included in a 2003 display at the Knights of Columbus Museum titled “John Paul II: A Passion for Peace” and is currently exhibited at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.
The Knights underwrote several major restoration projects at St. Peter’s Basilica during John Paul II’s tenure, including the Polish chapel in the Vatican Grottoes and the restoration of the basilica’s expansive façade.
John Paul II presented a copper cross held by the statue of Christ on St. Peter’s facade as a gift to the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven in 1986.
John Paul II wrote papal messages to the Knights to commemorate their Supreme Conventions. You can read them here.
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