Saint John Paul II could have been aborted if his mum agreed

One hundred years ago Saint John Paul II – at that time Karol Wojtyla – was born. His birth was something of a miracle as his mother Emilia Wojtyla’s pregnancy with him was difficult and life-threatening.

In a new book published in Poland, Milena Kindziuk describes how St. John Paul II’s mother was advised to get an abortion.

“She had to choose between her own life and that of the baby she was carrying, but her deep faith did not allow Emilia to choose abortion,” Kindziuk says.

“Deep in her heart she had to be ready to make this sacrifice for the baby she was carrying.”

In her book, “Emilia and Karol Wojtyla. Parents of St. John Paul II,” Kindziuk records the testimony of a midwife, the reports of two of two friends, as well as the memories of other residents of Wadowice, where the Polish boy who would become  both a pope and Saint John Paul II was born.

Kindziuk says these testimonies showed that Emilia Wojtyla was depressed by her first doctor’s insistence that abort her baby.

However, Kindziuk says both John Paul IIs parents “made a bold decision that, regardless of everything, their conceived baby was to be born. And so they started looking for another doctor.”

They ultimately chose Dr. Samuel Taub, a Jewish doctor from Krakow who acknowledged the grave risks with the pregnancy but did not suggest an abortion.

“Emilia had a bad pregnancy: she spent most of her time lying down and still had less strength than usual,” Kindziuk says. “In this situation, Dr. Taub recommended the woman to lie down, rest often and feed herself very well.”

On 18 May, 1920, “Emilia lay in her apartment in Kościelna street, in the living room … in the presence of a midwife,” Kindziuk says.

Her husband and their 13-year-old son Edmund had gone out around 5 p.m. to participate in the prayer of the Divine Office in the parish church across the street where they sang the Litany of Loreto.

“We know from the messages that Emilia asked the midwife to open the window: she wanted the first sound her son could hear to be a song in honor of Mary. In short, Emilia Wojtyla gave birth to her son, listening to the song of the Litany of Loreto,” Kindziuk says. St. John Paul II also told his personal secretary Stanislaw Dziwisz that he was born to the litany in honor of the Mother of God and was elected pope at the same time of day that he was born.

The causes for sainthood for St. John Paul II’s parents have now been formally opened in Poland. His father Karol was a Polish Army lieutenant, and his mother was a school teacher.

Before she died of a heart attack and liver failure in 1929, Emilia was a staple of faith for the household. At the time of her death, the young Karol Wojtyla was a month away from his ninth birthday.


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