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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Pope Saint John Paul II


Karol Józef Wojtyła was born in the Polish town of Wadowice on May 18, 1920. He was the youngest of three children born to Karol Wojtyła, an ethnic Pole and Emilia Kaczorowska.

Emilia, who was a schoolteacher, died in childbirth in 1929.

As a child, Karol was run over twice, once by a tram and once by a truck.

Wojtyła's first, and possibly only girlfriend was a Jewish girl, Ginka Beer, who was described as "slender" and "having stupendous dark eyes and jet black hair".

In mid-1938, Wojtyła and his father left Wadowice and moved to Kraków, where he enrolled at the Jagiellonian University. While studying such topics as philology and various languages, he learned as many as 12 foreign languages, nine of which he used extensively as pope.

Karol Wojtyla was ordained to the priesthood by Kraków's archbishop, Adam Sapieha on November 1, 1946.


At the age of 38, Karol Wojtyła became the youngest bishop in Poland. Six years later he was appointed archbishop of Kraków, Poland on January 13, 1964.

The Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II on October 16, 1978, the first non-Italian pope in 455 years, when he was inaugurated in a mass at St. Peter's Square. (The previous non-Italian pope was the Dutch Pope Adrian VI, who served from 1522 to 1523.) The photograph below produced by Agência Brasil, shows him in Brazil in 1997.

Pope John Paul II mafe his first official visit to his native Poland on June 2, 1979, becoming the first Pope to visit a Communist country.

The Turkish assassin Mehmet Ali Agca, after a lifetime of rejection and hatred pointed a gun at John Paul II as the Pope entered St. Peter's Square to address an audience on May 13, 1981. John Paul was shot and critically wounded. The Pope glimpsed a poster of our Lady of Fátima in the crowd and when he found that he was still alive, he was convinced she spared him from death. The shooting took place on the feast day of Our Lady of Fátima and The Pope kept himself conscious on route to the hospital by concentrating on her. The gunman was arrested and locked up in Rome's Rebibbia Prison.

Two and a half years after being shot by Mehmet Ali Agca, Pope John Paul II showed what Christian forgiveness is about when on December 27, 1983, he sat in his would-be assassin's cell holding the hand that held the gun.

A new updated Catechism was initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1984, the first since 1566. It was the product of years work by 12 cardinals. The 690–page document covered Catholic belief about God, the Sacraments, prayer and morality based on the Ten Commandments. It significantly lengthened a long list of existing sins. Among the new transgressions were speeding, artificial insemination, embryo research and taking too many aspirin.

After several visits to his homeland, Poland, Pope John II was proving to be a rallying point for opponents of the communist regime, forcing democratic elections to be promised. Other Eastern European countries, encouraged by this and Gorbachev's reforming policies were also proceeding to overthrow their Communist regimes. The culmination of this was the symbolic breaking up of the Berlin Wall.

In a 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, Pope John Paul II stated in unequivocal terms his opposition to abortion, birth control, genetic manipulation, and euthanasia, and employs the church's strongest language to date against capital punishment.

John Paul II on 12 August 1993 in Denver, Colorado

On the first Sunday in the first Lent of Christianity's third millennium. at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica Pope John Paul II apologized for Catholicism's history of "violence in the service of truth." He declared "that the Church "should kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters."

On a visit in 2000 to Portugal for the beatification of the Fátima shepherd children Jacinta and Francisco (Lúcia was still alive), Pope John Paul II made a declaration about the third secret revelation that were given by the Virgin Mary. He announced that he believes it refers to the failed assassination attempt on him in 1981.

Pope Saint John Paul II was one of the most travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his 27 years as Pope.


When he became pope in 1978 at the age of 58, John Paul II was an avid sportsman. He was extremely healthy and active, jogging in the Vatican gardens, weight training, and hiking in the mountains.

The newly elected John Paul had a swimming pool installed in his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo outside Rome. He argued that the expense of the pool was justified in terms of deferring the cost of ferrying in a conclave of cardinals to elect a successor.

The pontiff is a former soccer player (his nickname was 'Lolek the Goalie' when he played in goal for his local team in Wadowice, Poland).

John Paul II had been a theater goer from childhood in his native Poland, he even at one time considered becoming an actor. A play, which the former Karol Wojtyla wrote when he was auxiliary Bishop of Krakowl, was translated into English as The Jeweller's Shop and performed at London's Westminster Theatre in 1982.

 His popularity resulted in a TV channel dedicated entirely to the Pope.

John Paul II became the first pope to release an album when he dropped Santo Subito! in 2007.


By the new millennium, John Paul's physical health had declined. In 2001 he was diagnosed as suffering from Parkinson's disease. International observers had suspected this for some time, but it was only publicly acknowledged by the Vatican in 2003.

Despite difficulty speaking more than a few sentences at a time, trouble hearing, and severe osteoarthrosis, the pope continued to tour the world for the next few years, although rarely walking in public.

On April 2, 2005, John Paul II spoke his final words in Polish, "Pozwólcie mi odejść do domu Ojca" ("Allow me to depart to the house of the Father"), to his aides, and fell into a coma about four hours later. He died in his private apartment that evening of heart failure from profound hypotension and complete circulatory collapse, 46 days before his 85th birthday.

The Requiem Mass held on April 8, 2005 was the single largest gathering of heads of state in history, surpassing the funerals of Winston Churchill (1965) and Josip Broz Tito (1980). Four kings, five queens, at least 70 presidents and prime ministers, and more than 14 leaders of other religions attended alongside the faithful.

It was also the largest single pilgrimage of Christianity ever with numbers estimated in excess of four million mourners gathering in and around Vatican City.

John Paul II was beatified on May 1, 2011 after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints attributed one miracle to his intercession, the healing of a French nun from Parkinson's disease.

A second miracle attributed to John Paul II's intercession was approved on July 2, 2013, and confirmed by Pope Francis two days later (two miracles must be attributed to a person's intercession to be declared a saint). John Paul II was declared a saint on April 27, 2014, together with Pope John XXIII. It was the first papal canonization since 1954.

The tomb of John Paul II in the Vatican Chapel of St. Sebastian within St. Peter's Basilica

It is traditional to celebrate saints' feast days on the anniversary of their deaths, but that of John Paul II (October 22nd) is celebrated on the anniversary of his papal inauguration.

His family home in Wadowice just outside of Kraków is now a famous site of Christian pilgrimage in Poland.

Source Daily Mail

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