The National Bank of Poland has issued (14th May) new gold and silver collector coins which are in observance of the centenary anniversary of the birth of Saint John Paul II. Remembered as the first-ever Polish Pontiff of the Holy See, John Paul II was the charismatic personality, who, for many in his homeland, hastened the end of communist control of the country. Karol Józef Wojtyła was born on the 18th May 1920 in Wadowice. Those were particularly hard times in Polish history, as his birth came shortly after Poland regaining independence in 1918. Poland faced the threat of losing her treasured independence once again as a result of the Bolsheviks’ invasion. Referring to these circumstances, Wojtyła, as Pope John Paul II commented:
You know that I was born in May 1920, at the time when the Bolsheviks marched towards Warsaw. And that is why since my birth, I have owed a great debt to those who at that time took up the fight against the invader and won, paying with their lives.
His youth was marked by the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 when German forces invaded Poland and eventually occupied the country until the end of the conflict in May 1945. In his memoirs, wrote:
I was spared a lot of suffering in this huge and terrible theatre of the Second World War. This is because any day I could have been snatched from the street, from the quarry or from the factory and transported to the camps. Sometimes I even asked myself, so many of my peers were killed, why not me? Today, I know it was not a coincidence.
In 1946 Karol Wojtyła was ordained as a Catholic priest, and in 1958 he was appointed bishop. In 1964 Karol Wojtyła was appointed the Archbishop of Cracow by Pope Paul VI, and in 1967 he became a Prince of the Church, Karol, Cardinal Wojtyła. In 1978, the beloved Paul VI died on the 6th August and was succeeded by Albino Cardinal Luciani (1912–1978), who was elected head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City on 26th August. In what was a great surprise to the world, the man who became Pope John Paul, died just 33 days later on the 28th September. On the 1st May 2011, his successor Pope Benedict XVI beatified him, and on the 27th April 2014, Pope Francis, who had succeeded Benedict XVI after his abdication and by the act of canonization, included him among the saints of the Catholic Church. When declaring the year 2020 the Year of Saint John Paul II, the Sejm (or the lower house of the Polish parliament) of the Republic of Poland stated:
His Holiness was and still is a guiding light for us to walk with confidence into the future. His deeds demonstrated extraordinary courage.
The coins are produced to Proof quality by the Mint of Poland at their facilities in Warsaw, on behalf of the National Bank of Poland. Each coin is designed by Urszula Walerzak.
Coin 1 — 10 zlotych: The obverse of the first silver coin shows the façade of the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wadowice and the sundial located on the wall of the church, with the inscription CZAS UCIEKA WIECZNOŚĆ CZEKA (“Time flies, eternity waits”).
The reverse of the coin depicts Saint John Paul II with a pastoral staff. The image of John Paul II is based on an actual photograph from the resources of the East News Sp. agency. The coin is struck using a high-relief technique.
Coin 2 — 10 zlotych: The obverse side of the second silver coin depicts a fragment of Jerzy Kossak’s painting Miracle on the Vistula.
The reverse shows Saint John Paul II standing alongside an image of the baptismal font in the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wadowice.
Coin 3 — 500 zlotych: The obverse side of the square-shaped gold coins depict a fragment of Jerzy Kossak’s painting Miracle on the Vistula.
The reverse shows Saint John Paul II praying at the baptismal font in the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Wadowice.
|10 złotych 1||.999 Silver||31.1 g||32 mm||Proof||12,000|
|10 złotych 2||.925 Silver||14.1 g||32 mm||Proof||16,000|
|500 złotych||.999 Gold||62.2 g||40 x 40 mm||Proof||966|
Each coin is encapsulated and presented in a custom heavy-gauge lined card case and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. All three coin options are available as a separate purchase, for more information, please visit the website of the National Bank of Poland.