PARIS SIGN OF REMEMBRANCE
THE WORD OF ARCHBISHOP MAREK JĘDRASZEWSKI FOR SACRIFICING THE MONUMENT
Île de la Cité is a place of particular remembrance – remembrance of Paris, France, Europe. Remembrance inscribed mainly in a stone, starting with the cathedral Notre Dame and Sainte-Chapelle. The rank of a real symbol of the city belongs to the Zero Point situated in front of the cathedral, from which distances to all towns in France and Europe are calculated. Regarding the uniqueness of this point, distances to it are measured not only in kilometers, but also with the heart and historical memory. Memory, from which it is impossible to remove Christianity present here, and in Ile de la Cite since the times of king Chlodwig I.
Apart from these particular signs of remembrance, today there is an excellent monument of St. John Paul II, the successor of St. Peter in the years 1978-2005. For this reason, today’s event is really historic, and for us, the Catholics, especially, the Polish Catholics, particularly joyful. So, on behalf of the president of the Polish Episcopal Conference archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, I would like to express my whole gratitude to His Eminency Priest Cardinal Archbishop of Paris and the City Authorities for successful completing the idea of erecting this monument.
The Holy Father John Paul II was related to Paris and France through his apostolic journeys, which he made to this country seven times. All of them brought excellent fruits, and memory about them exceeds generations of those who had a possibility then to meet with him personally.
I will quote four of his statements. However, thanks to him, we remember him as an unusual witness of Christian, and also universal values.
Speaking during the Holy Mass at the airport Le Bourget on 1 June 1980, John Paul II appeared as a witness of Christianity: when he reminded about ‘Martyrologium Romanum’, in which the name ‘Lutetia Parisorium often appears and when he dared to ask the question: ‘France, the first Daughter of the Church, are you faithful to your baptism?’
Next morning, on 2 June, giving his speech in UNESCO, John Paul II passed into history as a witness of the man – the great man only due to his power of creating culture, and also as a witness of nations which owe their identity just to culture. At that time, the Pope gave an example of Poland, which, as the nation, despite 123 years of captivity, maintained its identity and sovereignty thanks to culture.
In 1997 during World Youth’s Days in Paris, John Paul II became a witness of constant youth of the Church, speaking to young people with the following appeal: ‘Dear young people, your road does not end here. Time does not stop today. Go onto all roads of the world, onto roads of humankind, remaining united with Christ’s Church’.
The purpose of the last foreign journey of John Paul II was Lourdes. On 15 August 2004, being severely ill, the Pope became a witness of hope which exceeds this world and life. Pointing to Christ the Redeemer and His Blessed Mother, he addressed the appeal to everybody: ‘Be free women and men faithful. Defend your freedom’.
Expressing gratitude for a possibility of participation in this solemn celebration, I hope that the words of the Saint Pope mentioned by me will flow from this monument, so distanced from the Zero Point, towards Paris, France and Europe, without which it is difficult to understand the history of the Church and the world of the turn of the last centuries and millenniums.
Paris, 25 October 2014.