May 18 marks the 100th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s birth. For the occasion, former Swiss Guard Mario Enzler finally put down in book form what he has spent years sharing at retreats and conferences: the life-changing lessons he learned from 1989 to 1993 when he served the much-beloved Servant of the Servants of God.
Born in 1920 in Wadowice, Poland, Karol Jozef Wojtyla took the name John Paul II when he was elected pope in 1978. In his 27 years as pontiff, he helped bring down communism in Europe, improved the Church’s interfaith relations, implemented the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and established World Youth Days. Among the most traveled of all world leaders, he also beatified and canonized more people than any other pope. When he died in 2005, he had lived through an assassination attempt and had courageously endured years of suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He was canonized for his heroic virtue in 2014.
After serving the pontiff, Enzler worked in banking and as a financial adviser at the Vatican. Today, he is a professor at The Catholic University of America, where he teaches ecclesial management and administration to clergy. Married and the father of five children, Enzler lives in New Hampshire.
Published by Newman House Press in April, Enzler’s book, I Served a Saint: Reflections of a Swiss Guard in Honor of the Centenary of the Birth of St. John Paul II, is a quick read (127 pages) that offers insights into the Pope’s sainthood and other holy men and women Enzler came to know through his service at the Vatican.
“By helping us get to know a contemporary saint better … Enzler has made a contribution to St. John Paul II’s New Evangelization,” papal biographer George Weigel notes in the book’s foreword. The memoir not only highlights the universal call to holiness, but also offers tools to achieve it. The book has received praise from a host of Church leaders, including Cardinal Kurt Koch, prefect for the Congregation for Christian Unity, who wrote: “This book … can be of great assistance on [one’s] path to holiness.”
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