VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 12, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II wrote a telegram for the funeral of Countess Karolina Lanckoronska, an art historian who survived Nazi imprisonment and later used her family fortune to further the study of Polish politics and history.
Lanckoronska died Aug. 25 in Rome at age 104.
The papal message was read today during the rite held in St. Stanislao Church of Lviv of the Latins, presided over by Cardinal Marian Jaworski.
The Pope explained that the deceased was a personal friend of his. Noting that she lived in three centuries, he linked her destiny to the events of Europe’s history in general, and Poland’s in particular.
Her life was marked, among other things, by the drama of the wars, by arrests and concentration camps, and by emigration from her homeland, the Pope said.
An art historian in Poland in the years before World War II, Lanckoronska spent most of the war after 1942 as a prisoner of the Germans, having refused to cooperate with the Nazis. After her release in 1945, she helped to administer a fund established in Rome in the name of her father to further the study of Polish history.
In his message, John Paul II highlighted the countess’ work in favor of the oppressed and needy.
The Pope said that three reasons explain Lanckoronska’s courage: her unbreakable faith in God, her selfless love for the homeland, and her personal conviction that man’s strength stems from the spirit that is formed in contact with culture, understood in a wide sense.
The Holy Father recalled the last meeting he had with Lanckoronska, on her 100th birthday, when he conferred on her the honor of the Order of St. Gregory in recognition of her work for the Church and Poland.