Who is John Paul II, the man we have come to know, love, and admire? With stunning photography and the intimate words of his close friend and associate Benedict XVI—then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—The Legacy of John Paul II: Images & Memories covers the breadth of John Paul’s pontificate in a miniature coffee-table edition.
Although I had seen it pictured in the Ignatius catalog, I did not realize the quality of this beautiful little book until I actually had it in my hand. With a gold-embossed cloth hardcover, sewn binding, and glossy paper, this book is produced as a keepsake edition and comes with a lovely dust jacket, picturing Pope John Paul II embracing Ratzinger. Its contents include numerous memorable color photographs highlighting John Paul II’s pontificate, Ratzinger’s reflections, and more.
This book differs from other biographies of the late Pope’s life because it concentrates primarily on his pontificate. It also includes information of particular interest to Catholics, such as chronological listings of his encyclicals and their themes—from Redemptor Hominis in 1979 to Ecclesia de Eucharistia in 2003—and pastoral visits around the world. For example, in 1979, he visited the Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Bahamas, Poland, Ireland, the United States, and Turkey. In looking over his rigorous schedule, it is truly amazing how many countries he traveled to over the years.
Ratzinger’s words offer substance and insight to John Paul’s incredible life. His frank, personal style creates the feeling of an intimate conversation. Although his vocabulary is rich—there occasionally arise words like "anthropocentricism"—he clearly explains his meaning, so that anyone can easily understand him. At the same time, his commentary is not just filler, but actually interesting to read, particularly when he recalls specific incidents from the Pope’s life.
Most importantly, Ratzinger is sharing with us the significance of John Paul’s mission, his untiring zeal to bring Christ’s message of hope to all of us in a uniquely personal way. After reading his reflections, I feel that I have come to know John Paul II on a more personal level and enlarged my vision of his mission. Especially moving is Ratzinger’s funeral Mass homily, when he says, "We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father’s house, that he sees us and blesses us."
The photo collection, reminiscent of a family photo album, covers John Paul’s 26 years as Pope and includes explanatory commentary of who is in the photograph and where and when it was taken. As I paged through the photographs, I found myself reliving his pontificate in these fascinating and often dramatic moments. The photographs of him with little children are especially touching.
The Legacy of John Paul II offers us a vivid portrait into the man who was father to millions of Catholics around the world. John Paul II, we love you!
- Elizabeth Yank (from Lay Witness magazine. www.cuf.org)
You can purchase this book here.