Saint John Paul II and the Mutual Gifts of Mary

Perhaps best known for his Theology of the Body – love as a free, faithful, total, and life-giving gift of self to another – a dive into the life and spirituality of Pope Saint John Paul II shows us that this mutual gift can be given (and received) in our relationships with Jesus and His Mother. This modern saint was known for his consistent and steadfast devotion to Mary throughout his life and papacy. He entrusted his entire ministry and safety to Mary with his motto: “Totus tuus.”

Mentions of Marian entrustment are most noticeable in St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, a book that a young Karol Wjotiyla carried everywhere with him (even to work in a sodium factory). He credited de Montfort’s intense work regarding Marian consecration with laying the foundations of his own love for Mary, especially with the revelation that to love Jesus was to love Mary, and that Mary’s heart would always take one closer to Jesus. That realization obliterated his hesitations surrounding Marian devotion and emboldened him to cultivate a rich, trusting, and all-encompassing relationship with Our Lady. Often in conversation with her and always with a rosary on hand, he called the Rosary “our daily meeting which neither I nor Our Lady neglect.”

Our Lady didn’t neglect their daily meetings, nor did she neglect the pope when he asked for her intercession. The day of his attempted assassination in 1981, a copy of Our Lady of Częstachowa was placed where he usually sat to give his audience as he was rushed to the hospital with serious internal damage. A gust of wind blew the Polish icon over, and on the back had been inscribed, weeks before, “May Our Lady protect the Holy Father from Evil.”

He said of that day, “one hand pulled the trigger, and another guided the bullet.”

The relics of this attempt on his life – one of many – were distributed at Marian sites in thanksgiving; his zucchetto to Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn in Vilnius, Lithuania, his pastoral ring at the feet of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima (alongside one of the bullets, which fit perfectly in her crown), and his sash to Our Lady of Częstachowa in Jasna Góra.

A timeless reality that prayer is conversation and relationship is hard to explain without an example. St. John Paul II not only reintroduces, but exemplifies, the mutualistic dimension of relational prayer – one that, as we give to Mary and Jesus, so they will give to us in return.

In this month dedicated to the Rosary, let us learn from his example and try it out for ourselves. Join us this Month of the Rosary at the Family Rosary Across America, nightly at 7 PM Central Time, to pray with and for your family across the nation and the world.

Pope Saint John Paul II, pray for us!

Our Lady is celebrated under many names, from popular apparitions to small-town titles. Each reveal something different about the Blessed Mother to us – and affirms what we already know of her love and intercessory power! Deepen your devotion to Our Lady with Miracles, Mysteries, & Mary, a monthly collection of stories, Church teaching, reflections, and so much more – guaranteed to expand your knowledge of Our Blessed Mother. Sign up today to receive this Marian content, right to your inbox, and check out our archive page to catch up on our year of Our Lady!

Colleen R. Schena serves as the Junior Copywriter for Relevant Radio. She is a graduate of Marian University Indianapolis with a Bachelor of Arts in Theology. Colleen has a deep passion for writing fiction and nonfiction, hiking, and nature photography.