I wonder how many photographers have had a privilege like the one I had at dinner tonight! I attended Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz’ Mass of thanksgiving this evening for Poland’s newest Saint Stanislaus Papczyński in the basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere. Dinner for about 350 of the pilgrims in Rome for this canonization was provided at three restaurants near the basilica. We all had color-coded tickets for the restaurants.

My green ticket brought me to Tonnarello where I dined with two American priests whom I had previously met, Fr. Jerry McCarthy and Fr. Fred Bernardini, and many pilgrims including – and I only found this out later –  the families of the two people whose miracle cures led to both the beatification and canonization of Saint Stanislaus!.

After dinner Fr. Pakula, the Marian Fathers Prior General, arranged a group photo of the two families! I was extraordinarily privileged to shared this very special moment with Marie Romagnano of Med-Link, Inc. who is a Marian Fathers’ devotee whom you’ve seen on EWTN (she has a photography hobby) and several Polish photographers who had come to Rome for the canonization.

It is late but I do want to post this amazing photo. I’ll tell the stories of the miracolati later. (I do not know how to make the photo larger – will try to learn)


In this photo, the young blonde woman in the front row was the miracle for the beatification – her husband is in the back holding the youngest of their two children. Their first-born is the little boy in the front who is not looking at the camera.

The young lad to the left of Fr. Pakula’s left shoulder, the boy smiling broadly, is the miracle man for yesterday’s canonization. His younger brother is also in the front row.

One of the absolutely most astonishing things about both stories, about both people, about both cures is that the miracolati as they are called in Italian, are from the same parish in Poland!!



I have been out of the office so much these last two days that writing a decent column has been a bit more difficult than usual. I wanted to post the following story yesterday but there literally was no time to write in between all the events on my schedule. In reverse order, tomorrow I’ll feature the papal Mass of canonization but today I bring you the post-Mass luncheon for Polish pilgrims and members and supporters of the Marian Fathers whose order was founded by the new Saint Stanislaus Papczyński.


Saint Stanislaus was canonized Sunday along with saint Maria Elizabeth Hesselblad, a Swedish-born convert to Catholicism who re-founded the Order of St. Bridget, patron of Sweden and original foundress of the order of religious women that took her name and followed.

Most of you probably know Fr. Joe Roesch whom you see on EWTN every year before, during and after Divine Mercy Sunday, as well as on many other occasions. Fr. Joe and I have been friends since he was assigned to the Marian Fathers in Rome where he is now the vicar general, It was Fr. Joe who made it possible for me to attend two canonization-related events – the luncheon yesterday and the Mass later this afternoon that will be presided over by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow and secrtary for 40 years to Saint John Paul II. We’ve known each other for over 30 years.

Founded in 1673 in Poland, the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary is also known as Marians of the Immaculate Conception. Although it is now an international organization, the Marians still have strong roots in Poland and place a great deal of emphasis on spreading the messages of Divine Mercy and Saint Faustina Kowalska.

The current Prior General is Fr. Andrzej Pakuła. He is to the right of the president as we look at the photo.


Fr. Pakula is on the far right here:


Not far from St. Peter’s Square is a huge underground parking area for cars and busses that was built into Janiculum Hill for the 2000 Holy Year. The fifth floor of this structure has a large restaurant and it was here that 300 Polish pilgrims, Marian Fathers and seminarians, the president of Poland and Cardinal Dziwisz ate a celebratory lunch.

At lunch I was able to take some pictures of Poland’s young President Andrzej Duda who led his country’s delegation to the canonization, accompanied by his wife, Agata Kornhauser-Duda. In the first images, Fr. Andrzej Pakuł is presenting a portrait of their founder, Saint Stanislaus, to the Polish president. In the second series, President Duda is giving a gift to the Marians.


President Duda’s talk to all of us was in Polish but I had help from Fr. Peter (Piotr) who interned a few years ago at EWTN and is now the director of communications for the diocese of Krakow. He reognized me at lunch and we had a grand cìconversatio in addition to his translating some of the remarks the president made.

At one point when people broke into laughter. Fr. Piotr told me the president had remarked that, after the beatification of Fr. Stanislaus, the Marian congregation sent priests to the Philippines where they built a hospital. Laughing, the president, who is a practicing Catholic, said, “If the Marians did that after the beatification, what will they do after the canonization!”


Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz exited the private dining room just minutes after the president’s departure. We had a delightful conversation and photos of that encounter will be posted tomorrow. Our brief but wonderful visit just may have a sequel to stay tuned!

Fr. Pakula receiving a gift from President Duda:


Some of the great personal moments at the luncheon occurred right after I sat down at one of the tables. All of a sudden I was surrounded by fans of my work on EWTN – most having come from the U.S. for the canonization – and many readers of my new book on  the Holy Year. It was such a joy and I only wish I had had the foresight to take a pfew photos!