POPE JOHN PAUL II
COURTESY OF BOZENA JARNOT / SEPTEMBER 2004
Bozena Jarnot of Honolulu kneels before Pope John Paul II during a personal audience last year.
Isle consul recalls
chatting with pope
The honorary Polish consul in Hawaii invited Pope John Paul II to visit the islands during a personal audience with him last Sept. 15.
"I got a minute with him," said Bozena Jarnot. "After I kissed his ring, I held his hand and we talked. I said, 'I wish to get you to Hawaii.' He smiled and said, 'Hawaii.'"
Jarnot said that brief exchange topped even her first encounter with her compatriot on his 1979 papal visit to Chicago. Jarnot was visiting her parents and through them gained entry to the papal Mass at Five Holy Martyrs Church on Chicago's South Side.
"I brought a fresh plumeria lei from Hawaii, and when he walked by, I tried to give it to him," she recalled. "Security stopped me but he said it was OK. He walked up the aisle with the lei on his shoulders and after a few minutes took it off and laid it on the altar."
Jarnot attended another papal audience 10 years ago with 100 other travel agents in Rome for a convention. Jarnot operates Hawaii Polonia tour company, which brings 10,000 visitors from Poland each year, she said.
The September opportunity for a personal audience came because of her diplomatic status and because of her friendship with a nun in the Vatican.
"You cannot expect how it will feel to meet the pope. It was so incredible. Although he was a person far above you, he was so real, a father."