Pope Francis invited young people to experience the life and teachings of Pope St. Paul John II and to make it an inspiration in overcoming challenges in life.
The pontiff addressed young Polish people in a video message on the occasion of the birth centenary of Pope St. John Paul II on May 18.
“Today, you too can experience him, and know of his life and his teachings, which are available to everyone thanks to the internet,” said Pope Francis in his address.
“Each and every one of you, dear boys and girls, bears the imprint of your family, with its joys and sorrows,” he said.
The pontiff said love and care for the family is a characteristic feature of Pope St. John Paul II.
“His teachings are a secure point of reference for finding concrete solutions to difficulties and to the challenges that modern-day families face,” he said.
The pope said personal and family problems did not become an obstacle “on the road to holiness and happiness” for the late pontiff.
Known as Karol Wojtyła during his younger years, Pope St. John Paul II suffered the loss of his mother, brother, and father.
As a student, he also experienced the atrocities of Nazism, that took so many of his friends from him.
In October 1942, young Wojtyla entered the clandestine underground seminary in the Archdiocese of Krakow during the war and became a priest on Nov. 1, 1946.
In August 1944, Wojtyla hid in a basement and escaped to the archbishop’s palace to evade the German forces who were trying to curtail an uprising in Krakow.
More than 8,000 men and boys were taken that day.
After the war, as a priest and bishop, he was forced to face atheistic communism.
“Difficulties, even tough ones, are a proof of maturity and of faith; a test which can only be passed based on the power of Christ, who died and rose again,” said Pope Francis.
“Dear young people, this is what I hope for each and every one of you: to enter Christ with your whole life,” he said.
“And I hope that the celebrations of the centenary of the birth of St. John Paul II will inspire within you the desire to walk bravely with Jesus, who is ‘the Lord of risk, he is the Lord of the eternal ‘more.'”
He called on the youth to learn the lessons of St. John Paul II, who served the Church as pope for 26 years,
Pope St. John Paul II, or Karol Wojtyla, was born on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland.
The pope described St. John Paul II as “a gift of God to the Church and to Poland” and “as a great man of mercy.”
“His earthly pilgrimage … was marked by his passion for life and by a fascination with the mystery of God, of the world, and of humankind,” he said.
St. John Paul II served as the archbishop of Krakow from 1964 until his election as pope on Oct. 16, 1978. He died on April 2, 2005.
One month after his death, the cause for his canonization commenced waiving the traditional 5-year waiting period.
On Dec. 19, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed Pope John Paul II venerable and was beatified on May 1, 2011. He was canonized on April 27, 2014.
Watch the pope’s message below.