Lino Zani was born in the Italian Alps where he worked with his family as a guide and ski instructor (and where he met and befriended Pope St. John Paul II). He is an avid adventurer and outdoorsman. He has climbed many of the world's tallest mountains. He currently serves as a consultant for major sports equipment companies and is the director of the Italian Foundation for the Mountains.
"A good number of intimate portraits have been written about Blessed Pope John Paul II over the years, revealing his obvious sanctity and profound sense of humanity. But a new book, to be published for the first time in English this fall by Saint Benedict Press, manages to capture the essence of the late Pontiff in a way that few have managed before, mainly because it involves a close study of John Paul in one of his most beloved environments: the mountains. Called The Secret Life of John Paul II, the book is written by Lino Zani, an Italian mountaineer and ski instructor, who accompanied the Pope on many skiing and hiking trips in Italy, a large number of which were secret getaways for the Pope who felt pent up in the Vatican. It s now fairly well known that John Paul II would regularly escape the apostolic palace unannounced, making an estimated 100 clandestine trips to ski or hike in the Italian mountains. According to his long-serving personal secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Pope, Dziwisz and two of his Polish aides would pack up the trunk of a car owned by one of the priests, and smuggle themselves out of the Vatican to the nearby towns in the mountains, a couple of hours drive from Rome. Cardinal Dziwisz, writing in his 2007 book, A Life with Karol, recalled that no one would recognize the Pope on the slopes, who would often be wearing sunglasses and be dressed as other skiers, and take his place in the ski lift queues like everyone else. Zani would also sometimes join those secretive parties as a guide, having struck up a close personal friendship with John Paul II when the Pope made his first clandestine trip to his parents home in the northern Italian Alps in July 1984. Then aged 27, Zani recalls in impressive detail that initial memorable visit when he and his family, in Italy s Brescia mountainous region close to a glacier, were visited by then-Fr. Dziwisz, and later by the Pope s legendary head of security, Commander Camillo Cibin. The Zani family immediately struck up a rapport with Dziwisz who had arrived with a couple of other Polish priests to scout out the area to see if it was appropriate for a secret visit from the Pope. The Polish secretary judged that the Zani s home, though rather spartan and with a shared bathroom, was a suitable place for the Pope to stay. The shock and disbelief with which this humble family in the Alps greeted the strange and unexpected possibility of hosting the Pope is touchingly conveyed by Zani, who together with his mother agreed to keep it absolutely secret, initially not even telling his father. Zani also describes how the then-president of Italy, Sandro Pertini, got wind of the trip and was duly invited by the Pope to join him. The banter and good humour between the 80-year-old Pertini and the Pope on the skiing excursion is a pleasure to read, and gives an insight both into John Paul II s own well-known wit and playfulness and the obvious ease with which Pertini could relate to the Pope. But for all the light-heartedness and good humour of the secret trips, Zani also shares insights into the Pope s humanity and personal holiness, not only his acts of charity and kindness . . . Visit Zenit.org to read the full review." -- John Paul II's Host on Ski Trips Pens Memoir 'Secret Life' Said to Capture Polish Pontiff's Essence By Edward Pentin ROME, AUG. 30, 2012 (Zenit.org).-