Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow and for over three decades private secretary to Karol Wojtyla, the first Polish Pope, has released previously unseen photographs of the late pontiff.
The images show the late pontiff, due to be beatified on 1 May - a major step towards sainthood - relaxing during trips in the Polish countryside.
“We have never released these pictures to anyone,” said Cardinal Dziwisz in an interview with Polish television channel TVP.
“I think that people will accept them positively,” he added.
The pictures show the pontiff both in civilian clothes and religious robes, enjoying walks and moments of reflection in the mountains.
Pope John Paul II was well known for his love of nature. As a young priest, he was a keen canoeist and skier, taking groups of students on hiking trips in the mountains.
The newly released pictures are from a later period, after Wojtyla had already been elected to the papacy.
Cardinal Dziwisz remembers how the Pope always liked to engage strangers in friendly conversations on these walks. The Cardinal stressed his easy manner and love of the great outdoors.
“We never avoided people,” Dziwisz remembers, noting that this easygoing manner comes across in the pictures.