He used to joke about being wheelchair-bound. “I am like the Colosseum, I’m a ruin, but very popular,” said the Polish cardinal Andrej Maria Deskur, friend of John Paul II, who he met for lunch once a week. The Cardinal died last week in Rome, aged 87, writes Vatican Insider.
Deskur was born in February 1924 in Sancygniów. Joining the clandestine seminary of Krakow during the years of Nazi occupation met Karol Wojtyla when there and he was particularly impressed by the way the future Pope was able to delve into prayer.
He was “very popular” during the years of the Wojtylian pontificate exactly because of his special relationship that linked him to the blessed Pope: many turned to him to reach the Pope.
“He lived in prayer,” Deskur said of Wojtyla, “In the chapel you could hear him speak as if he were talking to someone. When we, seminarists, were in the little church praying, everyone of us sooner or later, after having prayed a bit, would get distracted a little, you know, we would look around, glare at someone entering, like every person would normally do.
"He did not. Karol seemed to be somewhere else completely, immersed in another dimension. He was in God’s world, I never saw him get distracted in prayer once.”
Deskur became a priest in 1950, but he remained close to Father Wojtyla. In 1962, he acted as a liaison to deliver to father Pio of Pietrelcina the supplication that monsignor Wojtyla, at the time auxiliary bishop and vicar capitular of Krakow, sent to the friar with the stigmata pleading him to intercede to heal Wanda Poltawska, a mother ill with cancer. At the eve of her surgery she was healed.
At the time of the Council, Deskur was working at the Vatican in the role of undersecretary of the Motion Pictures, Radio and Television Pontifical Commission, which later became the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Appointed secretary of the new Ministry in 1970, he became its Chairman and Paul VI made him Bishop.
Every time Cardinal Wojtyla would travel to Rome to attend a Synod, or to work as a member of the Congregations to which he belonged, Deskur was his reference point. Some of John Paul II’s biographers highlighted the role that his Polish friend played in making Wojtyla known to the circles.
After John Paul II’s death, the Polish Cardinal disclosed a few details of the mystical and spiritual life of his friend, the Pope, stating that at the time of his ordination as priest, Father Karol received a special gift: the gift of “infused prayer”, which means , “let Spirit guide you ... with apparitions or inner words. From this intimacy with God everything develops.”
FULL OBITUARY: The death of Deskur, Wojtyla’s “Pope Maker” (Vatican Insider)
Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur (catholic-hierarchy.org)
Pope 'fading serenely', says friend Cardinal Deskur (ABC ‘PM’ 1/4/05)