In this rare glimpse into John Paul II’s private life, Lino Zani gives the reader more than an explanation of the pope’s skiing trips in the Italian Alps. The heart of the story is how the “secret” life of John Paul II in the mountains–his clandestine trips to northern Italy–are linked to the secrets of Fatima as they relate to the Holy Father. The Secret Life of John Paul II is a book worth reading.

Zani’s work is a mix of autobiography about his own interactions with John Paul II and a story about John Paul II in the mountains. Both aspects of the book give the reader an intimate portrait of John Paul II and how he approached people and the world with a particular insight. Through his conversations with and observation of John Paul II, Zani experienced a deepening of faith and conversion from his dissolute youth. Through John Paul II, Zani became an apostle to the mountains and brought the sign of Christ to the highest peaks in the world.

Yet it was on the relatively modest peaks of the Italian Alps that Zani learned what it meant to be an apostle. There, John Paul II revealed a deep prayer life and intimate connection with God. There, Zani saw John Paul II in the ecstasy of prayer and the agony of a kind of supernatural knowledge.

Before reading the book, I had not paid a lot of attention to the secrets of Fatima, or John Paul II’s connection with them. Whether you are familiar or not, Zani connects many of the dots between the secrets and the life of John Paul II, particularly his time on the mountain. That connection makes this book an interesting historical work as well.

In short, The Secret Life of John Paul II is a quick read worth reading. It’s one of many glimpses of John Paul II’s personal side that we often overlook.

For a complimentary copy of the book, the author provided an unbiased review. For more such books, visit Saint Benedict’s Press today.

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