|Super Pope - John Paul II (1920-2005)|
The magnetism of John Paul - previously Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Poland - was manifest in the way he humanized the seat of St. Peter with natural charm and ease of grace. That, and the man had balls. He waded into the tension of the Solidarity movement in the early 80's in open defiance of the Soviets and the Iron Curtain that veiled off eastern Europe. He publicly lent his (and Rome's) support to the cause, even holding an open Mass during his first visit as Pope to several hundred thousand of his countrymen. The ruskies unsurprisingly tried to knock him off for this stunt, but like a badass the Pope shook off four gun-shots wounds, later recovered, and eventually pardoned his would-be assassin. And a big papal middle-finger to the KGB when the Soviet state toppled and fell nine years later.
|The Pope on vacation in 1984|
When asked, "Is it befitting a cardinal to ski?" his reply was, "What is unbefitting a cardinal is to ski badly."Undoubtedly the best ski quote of all-time. Upon his passing, several of his closest confidants revealed that in his early days in Rome the Pope engineered several clandestine trips to the slopes, having his bros help him sneak through the guarded gates of the Vatican then back again. They'd head off in a borrowed car, no security detail, no cellphones, no one on the planet knowing their whereabouts, trunk loaded with parkas and wool sweaters I assume, and the Pope - with all the many burdens of heaven and earth on his conscience - would then spend his morning, hidden there in broad daylight, waiting his turn in the lift line and bombing down runs with a smile on his face.
Happy Ash Wednesday. Find time to get some turns in this week if you haven't already.