Limestone Quarry Becoming a University Center

Karol Wojtyla’s Former Workplace

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KRAKOW, Poland, AUG. 18, 2002 ( The old limestone quarry where Karol Wojtyla began to work at 19 is today a silent place, a huge open hole in the south of the city. But the Divine Mercy Shrine, which now dominates the scene with its ultramodern tower, is not the only change in the surrounding landscape.

On Saturday, after consecrating the shrine, John Paul II spent some time in another place near the quarry where he learned to appreciate the value of manual labor and the dignity of a worker during the Nazi occupation.

In the semi-vacant field, which John Paul II blessed in the presence of several hundred professors, an imposing library of the Pontifical Academy of Theology will soon be erected. The Holy Father founded this institution in 1981 following the 1950 closure of the theology department of Jagiellonian University by the Communist government.

There will soon be other buildings, as the field will become the new campus of the university, in which Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope, began to study philology. He studied until Hitler invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, and ordered the destruction of Polish culture, the closure of the university, and the deportation of professors to concentration camps.

The old stone quarry is becoming a scientific center; philosophy, theology, exact sciences and biomedical sciences will be studied here.

Rector Franciszek Ziejka reminded the Holy Father that in September 2000, «you said to us in Rome that Poland needs learned citizens, ready to sacrifice themselves for love of the homeland and the good of Europe. Here we are building that future.»

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