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The 19th anniversary of the death of Saint John Paul II

John Paul II

On the 19th anniversary of the death of Saint John Paul II, who passed away on 2 April 2005, ending the life that struck a chord with the world, inspired the Poles, and threw communism off-balance, we would like to present some of the materials on Karol Wojtyła. 

Saint John Paul II was one of the greatest Popes and authorities of the twentieth century, a man who reached into the sources of Christianity and taught us solidarity, courage and humility. 



On the IPN’s portal  pielgrzymki.ipn.gov.pl devoted to Papal pilgrimages to the homeland in 1979, 1983 and 1987, we present digital copies of documents constituting the archival legacy of the activities of the communist Security Services, descriptions of the various stages of the pilgrimages, photographs (taken both by the Security Services as part of official activities, as well as photos from private collections), links to historical and educational articles, leaflets, copies of the Polish community press and many other archival memorabilia of John Paul II's visits.

The collected materials constitute not only a unique testimony of those times, the social moods and details of the activities of the communist services, but also proof of the high hopes and expectations Poles placed in the Pope, who was always supported his compatriots in difficult times. We have prepared a special section for English-language readers, in which all three pilgrimages have been described.


Portals regarding the first and third pastoral visits were made available to the public in 2017 and 2019. Apart from updating and developing them further, we have also added materials on the Pope’s visit of 1983 (the second pilgrimage).

The arrival of John Paul II to Poland in 1983 was particularly important for Polish society experiencing the repression of Martial Law. The Pope gave Poles faith and hope. He always emphasized that evil should be overcome with good. The Security Services and the authorities of communist Poland, having experience of the visit of John Paul II in 1979, knew that the Holy Father’s meetings greatly exceeded their religious dimension. We recommend reading the introduction to the portal authored by Rafał Łatka Ph.D. : "Do not lose hope", a collection of photos from the IPN Archive, descriptions of the various stages of the pilgrimage, namely Warsaw, Niepokalanów, Częstochowa, Poznań, Katowice, Wrocław, Góra św. Anny and Cracow.

The introduction to the portal has been prepared by Prof. Jan Żaryn. The materials in the "Documents" section were divided according to the stages of the pilgrimage (chronologically from Warsaw to Kraków), according to topics (preparation, Security Services interviews, files, Army documents, polish community press abroad, analyzes and evaluations) and by the specific IPN branches and delegations providing materials. The introductory texts to the individual sets of documents were prepared by the employees of the scientific and archival departments of the IPN from Warsaw, Kraków, Katowice and Poznań.

The "Photo and graphics" section contains copies of operational photographs that are the legacy of the Security Services of the Polish People’s Republic, as well as photographs from private resources donated to the IPN. These materials are of great  value not only to chroniclers, but are also of sentimental and artistic value. In addition, the "Photo and graphics" section contains copies of graphics, invitations, admission tickets, brochures, leaflets, maps, situational plans and sketches.

The "Education" section includes digital versions of IPN publications, films and educational materials, information about conferences, exhibitions and other initiatives undertaken by the Institute of National Remembrance in connection with the commemoration of the Polish Pope.

The project was implemented by the IPN Archive in cooperation with the Office of the President and Social Communication of the Institute of National Remembrance.

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