Pope John Paul II

Pope Saint

John Paul II
Bishop of Rome
John Paul II in 1985
John Paul II in 1985
Papacy began16 October 1978
Papacy ended2 April 2005
PredecessorJohn Paul I
SuccessorBenedict XVI
Ordination1 November 1946
by Adam Stefan Sapieha
Consecration28 September 1958
by Eugeniusz Baziak
Created cardinal26 June 1967
by Paul VI
Personal details
Birth nameKarol Józef Wojtyła
Born(1920-05-18)18 May 1920
Wadowice, Poland
Died2 April 2005(2005-04-02) (aged 84)
Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
NationalityPolish (with Vatican citizenship)
Previous post
MottoTotus Tuus
(Totally yours)
SignatureJohn Paul II's signature
Coat of armsJohn Paul II's coat of arms
Feast day22 October
Venerated inCatholic Church
Beatified1 May 2011
St. Peter's Square, Vatican City
by Pope Benedict XVI
Canonized27 April 2014
St. Peter's Square, Vatican City
by Pope Francis
Other popes named John Paul
Karol Wojtyła
Notable work
Redemptor hominis
Veritatis splendor
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Polish philosophy
Virtue ethics[6]
Christian humanism
Main interests
Notable ideas
Theology of the Body
Alliance of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary[8][9][10]
Papal styles of
Pope John Paul II
John paul 2 coa.svg
Reference styleHis Holiness
Spoken styleYour Holiness
Religious styleHoly Father
Posthumous styleSaint

Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus II; Italian: Giovanni Paolo II; Polish: Jan Paweł II; born Karol Józef Wojtyła [ˈkarɔl ˈjuzɛv vɔjˈtɨwa];[a] 18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005) was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 1978 to 2005.

He was elected pope by the second Papal conclave of 1978, which was called after Pope John Paul I, who had been elected in August to succeed Pope Paul VI, died after 33 days.Cardinal Wojtyła was elected on the third day of the conclave and adopted the name of his predecessor in tribute to him.[21][22] John Paul II is recognised as helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe.[23] John Paul II significantly improved the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism, Islam, and the Eastern Orthodox Church. He upheld the Church's teachings on such matters as the right to life, artificial contraception, the ordination of women, and a celibate clergy, and although he supported the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, he was seen as generally conservative in their interpretation.[24][25]

He was one of the most travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 and canonised 483 people, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the preceding five centuries. By the time of his death, he had named most of the College of Cardinals, consecrated or co-consecrated a large number of the world's bishops, and ordained many priests.[26] A key goal of John Paul's papacy was to transform and reposition the Catholic Church. His wish was "to place his Church at the heart of a new religious alliance that would bring together Jews, Muslims and Christians in a great religious armada".[27][28]

John Paul II was the second longest-serving pope in modern history after Pope Pius IX, who served for nearly 32 years from 1846 to 1878. Born in Poland, John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope since the Dutch Pope Adrian VI, who served from 1522 to 1523. John Paul II's cause for canonisation commenced in 2005 one month after his death with the traditional five-year waiting period waived. On 19 December 2009, John Paul II was proclaimed Venerable by his successor Pope Benedict XVI and was beatified on 1 May 2011 (Divine Mercy Sunday) 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 2 July 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 canonised on 27 April 2014 (again Divine Mercy Sunday), together with Pope John XXIII.[29] On 11 September 2014, Pope Francis added these two optional memorials to the worldwide General Roman Calendar of saints.[30] It is traditional to celebrate saints' feast days on the anniversary of their deaths, but that of John Paul II (22 October) is celebrated on the anniversary of his papal inauguration.[31][32] Posthumously, he has been referred to by some Catholics as "St. John Paul the Great", although the title has no official recognition.[33][34][35]

Early life

The wedding portrait of John Paul II's parents, Emilia and Karol Wojtyła Snr
The courtyard within the family home of the Wojtyłas in Wadowice, Poland

Karol Józef Wojtyła was born in the Polish town of Wadowice.[36][37] He was the youngest of three children born to Karol Wojtyła (1879–1941), an ethnic Pole,[38] and Emilia Kaczorowska (1884–1929), whose mother's maiden surname was Scholz.[39] Emilia, who was a schoolteacher, died from a heart attack and kidney failure in 1929[40] when Wojtyła was eight years old.[41] His elder sister Olga had died before his birth, but he was close to his brother Edmund, nicknamed Mundek, who was 13 years his senior. Edmund's work as a physician eventually led to his death from scarlet fever, a loss that affected Wojtyła deeply.[38][41]

As a boy, Wojtyła was athletic, often playing football as goalkeeper.[42] During his childhood, Wojtyła had contact with Wadowice's large Jewish community.[43] School football games were often organised between teams of Jews and Catholics, and Wojtyła often played on the Jewish side.[38][42] "I remember that at least a third of my classmates at elementary school in Wadowice were Jews. At elementary school there were fewer. With some I was on very friendly terms. And what struck me about some of them was their Polish patriotism."[44] It was around this time that the young Karol had his first serious relationship with a girl. He became close to a girl called Ginka Beer, described as "a Jewish beauty, with stupendous eyes and jet black hair, slender, a superb actress."[45]

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 worked as a volunteer librarian and was required to participate in compulsory military training in the Academic Legion, but he refused to fire a weapon. He performed with various theatrical groups and worked as a playwright.[46] During this time, his talent for language blossomed, and he learned as many as 12 languages — Polish, Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, German, Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak and Esperanto,[47] nine of which he used extensively as pope.

In 1939, the German occupation forces closed the university after invading Poland.[36] Able-bodied males were required to work, so from 1940 to 1944 Wojtyła variously worked as a messenger for a restaurant, a manual labourer in a limestone quarry and for the Solvay chemical factory, to avoid deportation to Germany.[37][46] In February 1940, he met Jan Tyranowski who introduced him to Carmelite mysticism and the “Living Rosary” youth groups.[48] Also in 1940 he was struck by a tram, suffering a fractured skull. The same year he was hit by a lorry in a quarry, which left him with one shoulder higher than the other and a permanent stoop.[49] His father, a former Austro-Hungarian non-commissioned officer and later officer in the Polish Army, died of a heart attack in 1941,[39] leaving Wojtyła as the immediate family's only surviving member.[38][40][50] "I was not at my mother's death, I was not at my brother's death, I was not at my father's death," he said, reflecting on these times of his life, nearly forty years later, "At twenty, I had already lost all the people I loved."[50]

John Paul II (second from right) in Baudienst work crew circa 1941
The tomb of the parents of John Paul II at Rakowicki Cemetery in Kraków, Poland

After his father's death, he started thinking seriously about the priesthood.[51] In October 1942, while the war continued, he knocked on the door of the Bishop's Palace in Kraków and asked to study for the priesthood.[51] Soon after, he began courses in the clandestine underground seminary run by the Archbishop of Kraków, Adam Stefan Cardinal Sapieha. On 29 February 1944, Wojtyła was hit by a German truck. German Wehrmacht officers tended to him and sent him to a hospital. He spent two weeks there recovering from a severe concussion and a shoulder injury. It seemed to him that this accident and his survival was a confirmation of his vocation. On 6 August 1944, a day known as "Black Sunday",[52] the Gestapo rounded up young men in Kraków to curtail the uprising there, [52] similar to the recent uprising in Warsaw.[53][54] Wojtyła escaped by hiding in the basement of his uncle's house at 10 Tyniecka Street, while the German troops searched above.[51][53][54] More than eight thousand men and boys were taken that day, while Wojtyła escaped to the Archbishop's Palace,[51][52][53] where he remained until after the Germans had left.[38][51][53]

On the night of 17 January 1945, the Germans fled the city, and the students reclaimed the ruined seminary. Wojtyła and another seminarian volunteered for the task of clearing away piles of frozen excrement from the toilets.[55] Wojtyła also helped a 14-year-old Jewish refugee girl named Edith Zierer,[56] who had escaped from a Nazi labour camp in Częstochowa.[56] Edith had collapsed on a railway platform, so Wojtyła carried her to a train and stayed with her throughout the journey to Kraków. Edith credits Wojtyła with saving her life that day.[57][58][59] B'nai B'rith and other authorities have said that Wojtyła helped protect many other Polish Jews from the Nazis. During the Nazi occupation of Poland, a Jewish family sent their son, Stanley Berger, to be hidden by a Gentile Polish family. Berger's biological Jewish parents died during the Holocaust, and after the war Berger's new Christian parents asked Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II, to baptise the boy. Wojtyła refused, claiming that the child should be raised in the Jewish faith of his birth parents and nation, not as a Catholic.[60] He did everything he could to ensure that Berger leave Poland to be raised by his Jewish relatives in the United States.[61] In April 2005, shortly after John Paul II's death, the Israeli government created a commission to honour the legacy of John Paul II. One of the ways of honour, proposed by Emmanuelle Pacifici, the head of Italy's Jewish community, was the medal of the Righteous Among the Nations.[62] In Wojtyła's last book, Memory and Identity, he described the 12 years of the Nazi régime as "bestiality",[63] quoting from the Polish theologian and philosopher Konstanty Michalski.[64]

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Johannes Paul II.
aragonés: Chuan-Pavlo II
armãneashti: Papa Ioannis Pavlu II
Avañe'ẽ: Huã Páulo II
Aymar aru: Juan Pawlu II
azərbaycanca: II İohann Pavel
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Ян Павал II
Bikol Central: Papa Juan Pablo II
български: Йоан Павел II
brezhoneg: Yann-Baol II
català: Joan Pau II
Cebuano: Juan Pablo II
čeština: Jan Pavel II.
dolnoserbski: Jan Pawoł II.
español: Juan Pablo II
فارسی: ژان پل دوم
français: Jean-Paul II
गोंयची कोंकणी / Gõychi Konknni: Pope John Paul II
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Kau-fòng Ioannes Paulus 2-sṳ
hornjoserbsce: Jan Pawoł II.
hrvatski: Ivan Pavao II.
Bahasa Indonesia: Paus Yohanes Paulus II
Interlingue: Ioannes Paulus II
Kabɩyɛ: Jean-Paul 2
Kapampangan: Papa Juan Pablo II
ქართული: იოანე პავლე II
kaszëbsczi: Jan Paweł II
Lëtzebuergesch: Jean-Paul II. (Poopst)
lietuvių: Jonas Paulius II
lumbaart: Giovann Paol II
македонски: Јован Павле II
Malagasy: Joany Paoly II
مازِرونی: پاپ ژان پل دوم
Bahasa Melayu: Paus Ioannes Paulus II
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Gáu-huòng Ioannes Paulus 2-sié
norsk nynorsk: Pave Johannes Paul II
Nouormand: Jean-Paoul II
occitan: Joan Pau II
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: John Paul II
پنجابی: جان پال دوم
Piemontèis: Gioann Pàul II
Plattdüütsch: Johannes Paul II.
Ripoarisch: Johannes Paul II.
Runa Simi: Huwan Pawlu II
русский: Иоанн Павел II
саха тыла: Иоанн Павел II
Simple English: Pope John Paul II
slovenčina: Ján Pavol II.
slovenščina: Papež Janez Pavel II.
ślůnski: Jůn Paul II
српски / srpski: Папа Јован Павле II
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Ivan Pavao II.
татарча/tatarça: Иоанн Павел II
українська: Іван Павло II
žemaitėška: Juons Paulios II