Krakow’s Mayor, Jacek Majchrowski, has joined the ranks of representatives of the Polish Catholic Church in calling for the heart of Pope John Paul II to be buried at Wawel castle, the traditional resting place for Poland’s kings and heroes since the Middle Ages. At the moment, the earthly remains of the former Cardinal of Krakow are entombed in the Vatican grottoes and there is no question of his heart or any other part of him being removed as this only happens once a person has been beatified.
In the case of Karol Wojtyla, beatification is expected to be confirmed on October 16th, the 30th anniversary of the day when he became the first Polish Pope. Corriere della Sera, the Italian newspaper, has called the Poles’ request “barbaric,” calling it reminiscent of “ancient pagan rituals.” It appears that many Poles agree; a recent poll by Pentor for the Polish weekly Wprost revealed that 67% of the Poles surveyed want Pope John Paul II?s body to remain intact and at rest in the Vatican, in accordance with his last will and testament. Nevertheless, the custom of enshrining heroes’ hearts has some illustrious precedents, namely Chopin and Jozef Pilsudski, the father of Polish independence. As many of the Pope’s personal possessions and papers have also been preserved and not destroyed as he specified in his will, it remains to be seen what happens next.