"Polish House" Shows 30,000 Personal Items of John Paul II

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
29 Apr 2011

Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims are flocking to Rome for the ceremonies surrounding the beatification of John Paul II. Many will be attending the planned activities such as the vigil in Circus Maximus and the beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square.

But for those who wish to get a closer glimpse into the past of John Paul II, the Domus Polaca in Rome is inviting all pilgrims to their museum to see the greatest collection of personal items that were given to the late pope.

Father Andrzej Dobrzynski is the director of the John Paul II Center and is charge of cataloging all the of the pontiff's possessions.

Fr. Andrzej Dobrzynski
Director, John Paul II Center for Documentation and Research
"More or less, we have around thirty thousand objects, of various types, from pictures, paintings, medals, and other forms of art. And everything that we have here, we received during this time of his pontificate, the pontificate of John Paul II."

Since it's beginning in 1981, the center has been documenting the life of John Paul II, collecting photos and possessions from his childhood like  these family photos and a pair of snow boots from his youth. The museum also holds more recent articles such as the robes and skullcap he wore as pope.

Even some of the documents in their archives have been used in his process of beatification.

Father Dobrzynski says the richness of their museum is thanks to all the people who have supported them through the years, and invites anyone who may have stories of miracles or conversion, to share them with the center.

Fr. Andrzej Dobrzynski
Director, John Paul II Center for Documentation and Research
"If people have something to offer to enrich this history, we would be very happy, and we invite everyone to make a contribution to this documentation, because this documentation, we can say is a process that is still alive."

The center has a special meaning for many Italian and Polish pilgrims, because many of the artifacts are directly tied with the history of their countries. Like this figure of Christ that was made of clay by an Italian soldier in a Polish concentration camp and was later given to John Paul II.

But Father Dobrzynski says there is something that will interest the pilgrim from every country.

Fr. Andrzej Dobrzynski
Director, John Paul II Center for Documentation and Research
"This house is not just for the Polish, it's for everyone that wants to come here. And this house, we can say is universal because the people who founded it are of polish origin but live in the United States and other countries. And this house is ultimately the house of John Paul II."

Located on the outskirts of Rome, the Domus Polaca plans to host a number of pilgrims coming to celebrate the blessed John Paul II.