Funeral ceremonies are taking place in Krakow for Wanda Półtawska, a collaborator and friend of John Paul II, a former prisoner of the German Nazi Ravensbrück concentration camp, who would have turned 102 in November. The ceremony is attended by, among others: President Andrzej Duda.
Wanda Półtawska’s funeral takes place today in Krakow. The funeral ceremonies began at 13 in St. Mary’s Basilica. Then, at 16, the deceased will be buried at the Salwatorski cemetery.
The President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda, and the First Lady Agata Kornhauser-Duda take part in the funeral ceremonies.
She was called “Agent 007 of John Paul II”
Wanda Półtawska died on the night of October 24-25 in her home in Krakow. She would have turned 102 on November 2.
Półtawska was a collaborator and friend of John Paul II, a psychiatrist, and a former prisoner of the German Nazi concentration camp Ravensbrück. The Pope wrote about her: My personal expert on “Humanae vitae”, and the Italian daily “La Stampa” called her “Agent 007 of John Paul II”.
She was considered an eminence grise in the Polish Church. Many wonder whether it had a real influence on the Pope.
Tomasz Krzyżak, author of the book “Wanda Półtawska. Biografia z characterem”, answering this question, quotes the heroine herself: “I did not measure this influence. However, I certainly had an influence on him, as a woman, on a completely new reality, because he had no he had no opportunity to have either a sister or a mother – his mother died early – and for him the world of women was interesting, and he was fascinated by femininity,” Półtawska said.
She obtained a doctorate in psychiatry at the Jagiellonian University
Wanda Wiktoria Wojtasik was born on November 2, 1921 in Lublin. After the outbreak of World War II, she became involved in underground activities. On February 17, 1941, she was arrested and imprisoned in the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where medical experiments were carried out on her.
After the war, she studied medicine at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, where she also obtained a doctorate in psychiatry. There she met her husband Andrzej Półtawski – a philosopher, with whom she had four daughters.
In 1953, she went to confession to Karol Wojłtyła
It is not known when she first met Karol Wojtyła. The author of her biography, Tomasz Krzyżak, assumes that it happened in 1953, when Półtawska went to confession to Wojtyła. Over time, she began to play an increasingly larger role in the Krakow Church, and the role she played in the Vatican as a person with direct access to John Paul II also gradually increased.
Półtawska was a lecturer at the Faculty of Theology of the Jagiellonian University (today the Pontifical University of John Paul II in Krakow). She also organized and directed the Institute of Family Theology at this university. She also lectured at the Institute of Marriage and Family Studies. John Paul II at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
She last met with young people in September
She worked in the educational and treatment clinic at the Department of Psychology of the Jagiellonian University. She also conducted research on victims of the Auschwitz camp – the so-called children from Oświęcim. She is the author of publications devoted to, among others, psychiatry and Catholic topics.
She last publicly met with young people on September 22, 2023 in Krakow – it was an over four-hour meeting with the finalists of the 12th edition of the National Historical and Literary Competition “Polish Women Prisoners in Ravensbrück”.
In 2016, Wanda Półtawska was awarded the Order of the White Eagle – in recognition of her services to the Republic of Poland, for promoting the values and importance of the family in modern society, as well as for “the Christian testimony of humanism and contribution to the development of Catholic social teaching.”
Main photo source: Łukasz Gągulski/PAP