Miracle man

Václav Havel, welcoming John Paul II to the free Czechoslovakia that had emerged out of the choking smog of communist lies, confessed that he was not sure he knew what a “miracle” was – but that he knew he had witnessed something miraculous as he, the former jailed dissident playwright, welcomed to his liberated country a fellow dramatist, the Pope, who had himself been the target of communist hatred and fear. That same sense of the miraculous might be suggested by the fact that there are schools and seminaries named for a son of Wadowice in such diverse venues as Campbell’s Bay, Québec; Hendersonville, Tennessee; and Lome, Togo; or that, in the years after his death, letters from all over the world arrived at the office in charge of investigating his possible beatification, addressed simply to “Pope John Paul II, Heaven”; or that a man like Henry Kissinger could describe Karol Wojtyla, at the Pope’s death, as the singular embodiment of the trials, tragedies, and triumphs of humanity in the second half of the twentieth century. None of this was expected on October 16, 1978, when the man “from a far country” presented himself to the Church and the world from the loggia of St. Peter’s.

–from The End and the Beginning