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John Paul II's Aide Reveals "A Life With Karol" Print E-mail

Cardinal Dziwisz Recalls Details of Pontiff's Life

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2007 - Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who had been the longtime secretary of Pope John Paul II, reveals in a new book some details of the 40 years he spent as the close companion of Karol Wojtyla.

"A Life with Karol" is the title of the volume, written by journalist Gian Franco Svidercoschi, former deputy director of L'Osservatore Romano.

Svidercoschi also wrote "Karol's Story," which was broadcast on television as the film "Karol, the Man Who Became Pope."

The book is written in the form of a long conversation between Cardinal Dziwisz and Svidercoschi, in which the cardinal recalls the significant stages of the life of the one whom in the introduction he calls "father" and "teacher."

Archbishop Wojtyla of Krakow said to the young Father Dziwisz in 1966: "You will come with me. Here you will be able to continue your studies and help me."

The archbishop asked Father Dziwisz to be his secretary, and since then he shared all the most important moments of Karol Wojtyla's life, organizing his daily appointments and being party to his confidences, thoughts and concerns.

In the book he reflects on moments such as the papal election; the relationship with the Solidarity labor union, which would lay the basis for freedom in Poland; the 1981 assassination attempt; the historic Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi; and the Jubilee of the Year 2000.

Faithful friends

The volume also gives an account of the month of April 2005 when then Archbishop Dziwisz placed a white silk veil on Pope John Paul II's face, and waited for him to be placed in a cypress coffin.

The book describes the Pope's farewell to his faithful collaborator before dying, calling him affectionately "Stasiu." When the Holy Father's heart stopped beating, Archbishop Dziwisz thought: "He has gone alone from here. And now, from the other side, who is accompanying him?"

"He bid farewell to the cardinals and then wished to greet Francesco, who was in charge of cleaning the Pope's apartment," recalls Cardinal Dziwisz in the book.

Svidercoschi told ZENIT that the book isn't "a book-interview, there are no questions and answers, but a long conversation. I have written the different 'scenarios' in which the events took place, and then Cardinal Stanislaw added in each one of these what he had seen with his own eyes."

The volume was recently released in Italy, and will be published by Doubleday for the English-speaking world.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 09 December 2012 )
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