The idea of ​​establishing a papal Centre was born on 2 January 2006, as a response of the Church of Cracow to the words of the Holy Father on the day of the inauguration of the papacy – 22 October 1978: “Do not be afraid! Open the door to Christ”. The initiator of the instituting of the Centre is Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, who exactly 13 years ago affixed his signature under the decree on its establishment and approved its charter.
The Centre includes the John Paul II Institute, which has existed in Cracow since 1995.

During the Holy Mass, celebrated in the chapel of the Cracow Archbishops’ Palace on 2 January 2006, Archbishop Dziwisz said:
“Upon many months of ruminating and consideration of various proposals, we are faced with a momentous decision regarding the establishment of the John Paul II Centre. Being aware of our responsibility towards the Cracow Church and men of good will, we want to pay a tribute not only to the Great Compatriot, but above all we want to commemorate and preserve in the visible mark is person with all the spiritual heritage of his papacy, in particular for those who will come after us, so that thanks to this work they also may get to know and love the Servant of God, and go to Christ with him in the faithfulness to his teaching and testimony.

During the funeral of the Holy Father, a gust of wind closed the Gospel Book on His coffin. For us, along with this sign of the closing of the book of His life, a new chapter in the presence of the Servant of God in the life of the Church and each of us commenced. We want to write this new chapter with Him, creating the Centre “- pointed out the hierarch.

The foundation stone for the construction was consecrated by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to Poland in 2006. During its laying in the White Seas on 23 October 2010, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz said: “This is a place that features a page in the history of the Polish Pope, the page written with work and prayer. As the church is built on the rock, and that rock is Peter, we want the centre to be built on the rock, on Peter, whose name is John Paul II. His life and passing away, holiness and ordinariness, activity and prayer are the foundations on which we want to build it with the God’s help. Here we want to strengthen ourselves with the spiritual presence of the Holy Father, draw from the treasury of His thoughts, reflections, meditations and prayers in order to find in them the truth about God and man as well as light and help in our personal lives, family, in the community of the Church and the nation”- highlighted the Metropolitan of Cracow.

So, in the name of God! – said cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz to the guests gathered during the ceremony of the commencement of construction of the John Paul II Centre “Do not be afraid!” in the White Seas, 11 October 2008. After nearly two years of preparations, the construction of the papal Centre began. The ceremony gathered both local authorities of Lesser Poland and guests from outside the Region.

The charter assumes that the papal centre is a place of dialogue, disseminates and creatively develops the heritage of John Paul II, promotes the Pope’s spirituality, and provides its activity in the field area of science and education. Since 2006, its president and builder of the entire complex has been priest prelate Jan Kabziński.

One of the many dimensions of the activities of the papal centre has been a prayer for the beatification and canonisation of John Paul II. In the years 2006-2011, every first Saturday of the month for this intention, the Masses were celebrated, which in the Church of Saints Peter and Paul gathered many friends and worshippers of John Paul II. After each Mass, the concerts were held, to which outstanding artists were invited, including famous soloists, as well as choirs and symphony orchestras from all over Poland.

The culminating event during the 10 years of the activity of the Centre was the beatification and canonisation of St. John Paul II. This event initiated another dimension of the activity of the papal Centre. On 11 June 2011, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz founded the Sanctuary of Saint John Paul II in Cracow, which became the heart of the papal Centre.

Let us remind you that as a part of the first stage of the investment, apart from the Church of the Relics opened in the year of beatification (2011), two other facilities were built: the Volunteer Centre and the John Paul II Institute – the current registered office of the Institute for Intercultural Dialogue.

The opening and blessing of the Upper Church (2013) was a part of the second stage of the investment, which also included a construction of an observation tower. Finishing works are still being carried out in the building where the registered office of e.g. the Museum of John Paul II, but also a restaurant, a cafe, a pilgrim house and a bookshop will be located.

On 16 October 2016, on the anniversary of the election of Cardinal Wojtyła to the office of the Bishop of Rome, His personal secretary and the then Archbishop of Cracow – Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz consecrated the shrine dedicated to the holy Pope.

The visit of Pope Francis to the White Seas was also a historic event. On 30 July 2016, the Holy Father celebrated the Mass at the relics of St. John Paul II.

The John Paul II Centre with the Sanctuary located here has become a special place of worship of St. John Paul II. It is here that people from all over the world come to pray at the relics of the Saint, and their number is constantly increasing.

While talking about this place, one cannot forget about the main originator and founder of the Centre, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, who from the very beginning has been committed spiritually and materially so that this great Work could arise and continue to develop. The particular gratitude should be also offered to the builders of the papal Centre, to all its benefactors from Poland and abroad, who have supported the work with prayers and sacrifices. It is thanks to the joint commitment and great hearts of men of good will that the unique House of John Paul II is being built in Cracow, in the White Seas.