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Saint John Paul II

Saint John Paul II (Latin – Ioannes Paulus PP. II, Italian – Giovanni Paolo II; before enthronization Carol Joseph Woityla, Polish – Karol Józef Wojtyła) was the pope of Rome since 1978 till 2005.



In 1978 the 264th Pope John Paul the Second became the first pope of non-Italian origin, who was chosen in the period of the last 455 years. They say that John Paul II was the second pontific of Slavic origin. The first one was Sixt V from Montenegro. Only the apostle Peter and pope Pay (1846-1878) carried this service longer than John Paul II.

The election of Pope Paul caused some changes in the Church itself and the world. John Paul II was a perverse opponent of communism. After the pilgrimage of the pope to Poland in 1979, the anti-communist movement revived in the country, and the “Solidarity” was kicked off. The democratic movement of the Poles later became an example to all the countries of the former socialist camp. John Paul II always said that the east and west of Europe are like two lungs, and Europe cannot breathe full breasts until one part of it is under a totalitarian pressure.

The Biography


John Paul the Second comes from the small city located near Krakow that is called Wadovitse. He was born on the 18th of May 1920 in the family of Lieutenant of the Polish army K. Wojtyla. When he was eight, his mother died. At the age of twenty, he lost his father.

When he was young, his hobby was theatre and everything connected to it. His dream was to become a professional actor. When his friends were asking him if he wants to be a priest, he answered that he does not deserve it, which in Latin sounds like “Non sum dingus.”


After finishing of four years of the public school, Karol entered the Martin Vadovita State Men’s Gymnasium. He graduated in 1938 after passing the final exams. In the same year, he began to study Polish philology at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

After in 1939, the German occupation authorities closed the university. Young Karol, in order not to be exported to forced labor in Germany, worked in the quarry (1940-1944) and at the chemical factory “Solvay.” Since 1942, having felt the call to the priestly life, Karol began to attend the unofficial seminary organized by the Krakow Archbishop Cardinal Adam Sapeha. In parallel, he was one of the founders of the conspiratorial “Rhapsody Theater.”

Church service

During the period after the war, Karol continued his studying at the Higher Theological Seminary in Krakow, as well as at the Theological Faculty of the Jagiellonian University. On November 1st, 1946, he received ordination as a priest. After this Cardinal A. Sapeh sent a young presbyter to Rome, where, under the leadership of the famous Dominican theologian Reginald Garrigue-Lagrange, Fr. Karol wrote his Ph.D. thesis on “The problem of faith at St. John of the Cross “(Question de fide apud sanctum Ioannem de Cruce). During the holidays, he was carrying a soul service to Poles living in Belgium, France, and Holland.

In 1948, Karol returned to Poland. First, he was appointed vicar priest in the parish with Novice and then transferred to Krakow in the parish of St. Florian. Since 1951, Karol works among students. Then he began to deepen in studying of philosophical and theological sciences. In 1953 at the Jagiellonian University he defended his doctoral dissertation entitled “An attempt to develop Christian ethics by the Max Scheler system.” Soon he became a teacher of moral theology at the Krakow Seminary and the Catholic University in Lublin.

On July 4, 1958, Pope Pius XII appointed him to serve as a titular bishop of Ombri and vicar bishop in Krakow. Archbishop Evgeny Bazyak performed episcopal consecration on September 28, 1958, in the cathedral of Wawel Castle.

On January 13, 1964, Pope Paul VI appointed Karol Wojtyla as archbishop of Krakow, and on 26 June 1967 elevated him to the dignity of the cardinal. Cardinal took an active part in the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and made a significant contribution to the birth of the Constitution “Gaudium et spes” (“Joy and Hope”); he was a member of five synods of bishops.

Pope John Paul II

After the death of John Paul I, on 16 October 1978 the conclave elected Cardinal Carol Wojtyla as Pope. October 22, 1978, John Paul II as the 263rd successor of St. Petra began his 27-year pontificate, which has become one of the longest in the history of the Catholic Church.

During this time, John Paul II made 146 apostolic visits to Italy. As bishop of Rome, he visited 317 of the 333 Roman parishes. He made 104 overseas apostolic journeys, which were a symbol of the relentless care of the successor of St. Peter about the whole Church.


The criminal attempt on the life of Pope John Paul II was committed in Rome on May 13, 1981. It is still one of the most mysterious crimes of the last 20th century.

On May 13, 1981, John Paul II held a traditional day of youth in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. He was in a white jeep with an open top, going through the ranks of believers, shaking hands with them and giving a blessing. The driver of the car made one circle around the square and went to the second one.

At that moment, six shots rang out from the crowd. Ali Ahuja, a 23-year-old Turkish citizen who was shooting at the Pope, was captured on the spot. It became clear that Ahuja was a member of the Turkish nationalist organization “Gray Wolves” and was on the international wanted list accused in the murdering of a journalist of a Turkish newspaper.

At the trial, which took place in Rome from 22 to 24 July 1981, Ahuja stated that he had shot a pope based on religious hatred. But a year later, Ahuja gave new testimony, according to which the Bulgarian special services and the KGB of the USSR were involved in the assassination attempt.

When he ended up in a Turkish prison, Ahuja sent a letter to the media with a new version of his crime. The letter said that a group of Vatican cardinals organized the criminal attempt on John Paul. The higher hierarchies of the Catholic Church thus allegedly wanted the famous “third prophecy of Fatima” to come true, predicting an attempt on the Pope back in 1917.


None of the popes has ever met with so many people during the general audience on Wednesdays as did Pope. He met with almost 18 million pilgrims, not taking into account personal audiences and religious ceremonies. Only during the Jubilee in 2000, he met with 8 million audiences of religious people. Millions of faithful people can be added to this number as well, with whom the pope met during his pilgrimages around the world. As the head of the state of the Vatican, he made 38 official visits to other countries, gave 738 audiences for heads of state and 246 audiences for prime ministers.

John Paul II willingly held the meetings with young people, devoting much attention to them. He established the tradition of World Youth Days, which is celebrated every three years and gathers millions of young people in one of the cities of the world.

The Holy Father held 147 beatification ceremonies, where 1338 people proclaimed blessed (among them 154 Poles), as well as 51 canonization ceremonies with the proclamation of 482 saints (among whom there are nine Poles and two people connected with Poland). He headed nine consistories and erected in the dignity of the cardinal 231 clergyman (one of them “in pectora” – “keeping his name secret”), including 10 Poles. He was a supervisor at the 6th plenary sessions of the College of Cardinals.

During his pontificate, the Pope convened 15 synods of bishops. Six of the bishops gathered for an ordinary general meeting (1980, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994, 2001), once for an extraordinary general meeting (1985) and eight times for a special meeting 1980, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 (2), 1999).

Even suffering from severe Alzheimer’s disease, the Pope did not leave his missionary work. On April 2, 2005, he died. The death of the Pontiff was a tragedy not only for Catholics but also for representatives of many other religions. In 2013, the Vatican Special Commission recognized John Paul II the saints.

Written works

The most important documents authored by John Paul II include 14 encyclicals, 15 apostolic appeals, 11 apostolic constitutions, 45 apostolic epistles. He was also the author of five books: “Crossing the threshold of hope” (October 1994), “Gift and mystery” (on the 50th anniversary of the priesthood, November 1996), “The Roman Triptych” – reflections in a poetic form (March 2003 ), “Get up, let’s go!” (May 2004) and “Memory and Identity” (February 2005).

John Paul II died on April 2, 2005, at 21.37. He was buried on April 8 in the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican. A funeral ceremony was held in the square of St. Petra about 300 thousand people, 200 presidents, and premiers. Screens placed throughout Rome, allowed to participate in it for more than 5 million people.

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