It was November 1962. The future Pope, John Paul II wrote a letter to Padre Pio asking him to pray for his seriously ill friend. The Capuchin friar responded immediately… with a miracle.
At the beginning of October 1962, Mgr Karol Wojtyła, auxiliary bishop of Krakow, left for Rome for the first session of the Second Vatican Council. He worries about one of his friends, Wanda Poltawska, a Polish psychiatrist, deported to Germany for five years during the Second World War and who is not in good shape. He begins to fear a serious illness. The diagnosis falls on October 31. Wanda has colon cancer. She feels unable to tell her husband Andrzej: the fear of imagining him alone with their four young daughters and also the fear of dying soon paralyzes her. She decides to write a letter to Karol Wojtyla, her lifelong spiritual friend, to tell him the bad news. The future pope responds by asking her to “fight for her health and for her life” and to “tell everything to her husband”.
A few days later, Wanda Poltawska decided to have surgery. The date is set for Thursday, November 22. On Saturday, November 17, she went to the hospital for preparatory medical examinations. Even though she knows there is virtually no chance of recovery, Wanda wants to fight until the end. On Thursday, November 22, during the last examinations before the operation, the doctors noticed with amazement that the tumor… had simply disappeared. ” I don’t understand. I didn’t pray for the miracle… So who asked for it? » she notes, upset that same evening, in her notebook cited in Wanda Poltawska, Journal of a Friendship .
To find out, we have to go back to November 17, the day of his first preparatory examination at the hospital. That day Mgr Wojtyla wrote a letter in Latin to Padre Pio:
“Reverend Father, I ask you to pray for a 40-year-old woman, mother of four daughters, originally from Krakow in Poland (during the last war, she spent five years in a concentration camp in Germany), today seriously sick with cancer and in danger of death: may God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, have mercy on her and her family.”
The letter was sent to him through a friend of Karol Wojtyla, Mgr Deskur then referent to the Pontifical Commission for Cinematography and Radio. The next day, Sunday November 18, in the evening, the Capuchin already had it in his hands.
The miracle of Padre Pio
Padre Pio never responded to Karol Wojtyla. But a few days later, a miracle seems to have happened, the Pole is convinced, his friend is completely healed. Then the future pope wrote a second letter to the Capuchin to express his gratitude:
“Reverend Father, the woman from Krakow was instantly healed on November 21 just before the surgery.I thank God.I also thank you “.
It is not surprising that John Paul II became a staunch defender of Padre Pio. His beatification took place on May 2, 1999, in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. Three years later, on June 16, 2002, John Paul II canonized him. Wanda’s miracle does not make the Capuchin a saint. As Mgr Deskur observed at the time: “Miracles obtained during the lifetime of a servant of God do not facilitate his cause during the beatification process”. As for Wanda Poltawska, she is doing very well: the one who was healed by the intercession of Padre Pio celebrates her 100th birthday this November 2, 2021.