The Communists decided to build a “workers’ paradise in Poland and it would be without a church or cathedral or cross. The Polish people under the thumb of an oppressive government thought otherwise.
“Nowa Huta was built in the 1950s as part of a project to bring a mammoth steel mill to the outskirts of Krakow. The factory was intended in part to undercut the influence of the Catholic Church and local universities in Krakow, the longtime religious and intellectual center of Poland. In keeping with that model, Polish authorities prohibited the presence of any churches in Nowa Huta.
The rule was resisted for more than 20 years by Wojtyla and other priests from Krakow, who visited Nowa Huta regularly to celebrate Mass in muddy fields and to reach out to workers outside the gates of the steel mill. In 1957, Catholics erected a cross on the site, where they asked to build a church but were repeatedly denied permission.
Wojtyla persisted in peaceful attempts to win permits to construct a church, winning small but cumulative victories over the next two decades. In 1965, he received the go-ahead to enlarge a small makeshift chapel in Nowa Huta. Two years later, he consecrated the construction site. The church took another 10 years to build, with the Polish government putting up a long succession of bureaucratic hurdles. . .
Today , Nowa Huta has deteriorated into a ghetto, with endless rows of drab five- and 10-story concrete block housing that stand as a legacy of its socialist past. Most of the people who live here are either jobless or have been left behind by Poland's capitalist revolution. One of the few centers of vibrant activity is the 28-year-old Church of Our Lady.”