Pope John Paul II will visit his native Poland from June 2 to 10, a communique issued today both here and at the Vatican said.
It wil be the first visit of a Roman Catholic pope to a Communist country and Catholics here are calling John Paul's planned trip one of the biggest events in Polish history.
The pope indicated soon after his election a desire to visit his homeland, and Polish officials said he would be welcome, but today's announcement capped long and difficult negotiations between the Vatican and Warsaw.
The pontiff had expressed a desire to visit Poland in mid-May for the celebration of the 900th anniversary of the death of the Polish martyr St. Stanislaus, who was ordered killed by King Boleslaw the Bold for opposing him.
Polish authorities refused to allow John Paul II to come for the May 13 commemorations, a time of intense religious fervor in Poland. The pope sent a message to Polish officials last Tuesday saying that he was willing to agree to another date as long as it was not too distant from the May date.
Sources said the final dates, which include the holiday of Pentecost, were suggested by Polish primate Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski.
The pope will visit Warsaw, Gniezno in central Poland, Czestochowa, Poland's national shrine, and Krakow, the pope's former diocese, the Polish communique announced.
The official Polish news agency quoted President Henryk Jablonski as saying, "The first son in the histroy of the Polish nation to hold the highest rank in the church will be most cordially received by authorities and the community."
In seeing Poland's leaders, the pontiff will bring them significant political support at a time when consumer shortages are causing growing discontent. At the same time, the expected display of Catholic sentiment will impede the Communist Party's goal of eroding the church's influence in Poland.
A vast majority of Poland's 35 million inhabitants are practicing Catholics, the largest such group in the Soviet bloc.
The potential conflict between the church and the government would have been highlighted had the visit been allowed for the feast of St. Stanislaus, whom the church depicts as a defender of church rights and human rights in general. Like the pope, St. Stanislaus was a bishop of Krakow. The government argues that the saint was executed legally for plotting against the king.