An Insight Into A New Play About John Paul II


As the beatification of John Paul II draws ever closer, Catholic social teaching expert Stratford Caldecott tells us about a special play put together to celebrate his life and his desire that everyone should be holy.

Encouraging the religious vocation

Catholics continue to call for the late Pope John Paul II, soon to be Blessed, to be made a saint. His reputation for holiness is well established. One of the greatest fruits of that holiness is the worldwide revival of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, among young people who saw thanks to him what a joy it could be to give one’s life entirely to God through personal consecration.

Young people were a special concern of this Pope, and the World Youth Days that began in his pontificate have become the biggest gatherings of human beings on the planet – a place for the rediscovery of what it means to be human, and also a place to discover one’s vocation in life.

Discovering the meaning of life

But the World Youth Days are just a bigger-scale version of something John Paul II/Karol Wojtyla had been doing all his life, from his early days as a priest in Poland, taking groups of young people hiking in the mountains.

Now, to celebrate his beatification, a theatre group at the Oxford Oratory is presenting a play about a mysterious meeting between a man resembling the young Karol Wojtyla, and a group of young hikers, on a pilgrimage to see the Holy Face of Manoppello in Italy during the days when the Pope lay approaching death.

Out of this death comes life, as the pilgrims are taken through the darkness of confusion and despair to a discovery of the meaning of their own lives.

A mixture of mediums

The play, THE QUALITY OF MERCY, written by Leonie Caldecott and directed by Teresa Caldecott for Divine Comedy Productions, is playing at the Catholic Chaplaincy in Oxford on three nights, April 27, 28, and 29.

It mixes live action, symbolic musical sequences featuring the words and voice of John Paul II, and the choral speaking of Scripture passages translated by Dr Carl Schmidt of Balliol College.

Catholic composer Ben Nichols is responsible for the music. Tickets can be obtained for £10 (£5 concessions) at the Oxford Playhouse (01865 305305) or from the Oxford Oratory Porters’ Lodge. Online details here

Of related interest:

John Paul II: The Pope who Made History – A unique and monumental 5-DVD collection that chronologically follows Pope John Paul II’s life, including his childhood in Poland, his appointment as Pope, his most important foreign visits, and his last days.
John Paul II: His Life his Pontificate – his DVD contains two feature-length documentaries: His Life (30 mins) and His Pontificate (60 mins). They consider the two parts of John Paul’s life, before and after his election as Pope.
How Saints are Canonised – Through baptism, all Christians are called to be saints, and yet there are also ‘saints’ who are ‘canonised’ by the Church. This booklet gives an overview of the history and process of beatification and canonisation in the Catholic Church.

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