Ahhh today is a beautiful feast day to celebrate. Pope Saint John Paul II.
I don’t think you need me to explain Theology of the Body and the role it has played in my life. I’m sure you’ve heard of it, and you understand the beauty of its teachings. Though these ideas aren’t new and revolutionary (basic ideas seen in TOB have been around since the early church), Pope John Paul II presented them in a way which was perfectly relevant for our society. It has hit the hearts of many and continues to transform peoples’ lives. It’s worth looking into if you haven’t.
Now, I can’t say that I’m a JPII expert, but I am Polish and I know how much he means to the Poles. Matt and I got to honeymoon in Krakow, Poland for a whole month; trust me, the Polish people love him. After having been to Poland, I can see why Pope Saint John Paul II lived such a holy life. It seemed that the Polish culture in general was very Catholic. There were Catholic churches everywhere and Mass was easy to go to almost any time of day, nuns and priests walking around the city was a norm, and the way people lived was simply Catholic.
While Matt and I were in Poland, we didn’t do too many tourist-y things. We went off on our own most of the time. But, we did see a few key places people associate with Pope Saint John Paul II.
Here’s the Bishop’s Palace in Krakow where JPII lived as Bishop. As Pope, he made a visit to Krakow, and outside this window were hundreds of students (the university is close by) cheering for him until the wee hours of the morning. They were hoping for JPII to come out and speak to them. When he did, all he told them to do was go to bed.
Pope Saint John Paul II, as Karol Wojtyla, celebrated his first Mass as a priest in the Crypt of St. Leonard’s under Wawel Cathedral (within the grounds of Wawel Castle). We couldn’t make it down there, but we did go to daily Mass in the side Chapels of the Cathedral often. I try not to take pictures in churches, so here’s the Cathedral/castle area.
Pope Saint John Paul II was also a lover of the outdoors and frequented the Alps of southern Poland. Matt and I went hiking in these mountains, and we made it to the top of Zakopane (the tallest one!) with two small bottles of water and a block of cheese.
In celebration of our beloved Saint, I will be making his favorite Polish dessert, Kremowka. I found this easy recipe because Matt and I have zero kitchen counter space.
- 2 sheets (1.1-pound package) frozen puff pastry dough, thawed
- 2 cups milk
- 3/4 cup sugar
- teaspoon vanilla
- pinch salt
- 5 tablespoons cornstarch
- 6 large egg yolks
- powdered sugar
In a medium saucepan, bring milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, cornstarch and egg yolks to a boil, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Reduce heat slightly and continue to boil 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to get in the corners. Take the pan off the heat and plunge it into an ice-water bath or, if you have lumps, strain it through a sieve into a pan or heatproof bowl set in ice water.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out each piece of puff pastry slightly to blend the seam lines. Without cutting all the way through, lightly score each pastry sheet into 9 sections. Sandwich each puff pastry sheet between two pieces of parchment paper and two cooling racks. This will keep the pastry flat but still flaky. Bake 15 minutes, remove top rack and top sheet of parchment paper. Replace rack and continue to bake until golden and crispy throughout, about 15 more minutes. Cool completely.
Using a 13×9-inch pan as a mold, place one layer of cooked puff pastry in the bottom of the pan. Pour hot pastry cream over it, and place second layer of cooked puff pastry on top. Refrigerate until set. When ready to serve, using the prescored marks as guides, cut into 9 pieces. Dust each piece with confectioners’ sugar. Refrigerate leftovers.
I think it should come out really delicious.
Well, many prayers for you today dear readers. May this wonderful Saint continue to transform your heart and bring you closer to His love. Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us!
If you need more ideas on how to celebrate today, check out this old post by Kendra from CatholicAllYear!