The Secret Life of John Paul II

The Secret Life of John Paul II is a book recently translated into English written by Lino Zani a friend of the late Pope. The title promises more than it delivers, but it does present some nice behind the scenes look at Blessed Pope John Paul II. The title though sounds more like a tell-all book, but that might help more people read it. I remember once hearing a story from a Protestant women who is the sister of a rather famous anti-Catholic who saw “The Confessions of St. Patrick” and thought it would shine a negative light on a Catholic saint she knew little of. Instead it put her on a path to conversion to the Catholic Church.

Lino Zani was born and raised in the Italian Alps and acted as a guide and ski instructor. And avid adventurer and mountain climber he relates his first contact with Blessed John Paul II when he comes to vacation in the secluded mountain lodge owned by his parents. This meeting led to a lifetime friendship for hime and his family with the Pope.

It confirms many stories I have read about the Pope concerning his personalism and the way he talked to people as individuals and with undivided attention. A phenomenal memory helped him remember people he had met shortly years earlier. When he first meets the Pope and acts as a guide he writes about the Pope’s intense prayer life which he combined with being an active outdoorsman.

The books details the many encounters he has with the Pope and a historic theme that provides a theme to these encounters. An old cross that marks the remembrance of the dead in this mountains from battles that occurred in WWI provides an intriguing link to both the history of this area and to the life of the Pope’s father. The history of these battles provides a backdrop that is built on in their interactions and becomes something more than just history. The story of this weathered cross and how it gets replaced with a memorial in cooperation with the Pope and a seeming connection with the 3rd secret of Fatima provides some interesting reading. The connection with Fatima seems like a real possibility and not some wild-eye projection at making connections where there are none.

This book as told through the authors eyes provides both a story of his life, but something of the holiness of Blessed John Paul II. Lino Zani was not always the most faithful Catholic and a bit of a woman-chaser and he makes no excuses for this and relates how the Pope chastised him over this flaw. Yet it was a flaw he finally did overcome. There is certainly plenty of interest here which includes the authors attempts at placing Papal blessed crosses on mountaintops across the world. There are also some fun stories involving the Pope and the people that travelled with him including one involving the President of Italy at the time.

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