Pope John Paul II

John Paul II Biography
Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F059404-0019 / Schaack, Lothar / CC-BY-SA [CC BY-SA 3.0 de]

Pope John Paul II Biography

John Paul II, first name Karol Józef Wojtyła, was a supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church and the pope number 264 in the history of that religion. He was born in Wadowice, Poland on May 18, 1920, and is the son of Karol Wojtyła and Emilia Kaczorowska. He completed his studies of primary and secondary education, and after finishing them he devoted himself time to chess, crowned champion of several tournaments.

He entered the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and simultaneously to a theater school. In 1939, the German forces closed the university where he studied, Karol Wojtyła started working in a quarry and then in the Solvay chemical plant, with the aim of improving his economic situation and not being deported to Germany.

In 1943, he began in the clandestine seminary founded by Monsignor Adam Stefan Sapieha, where he studied theology. Three years later, on November 1, he was ordained a priest in the private archbishop’s chapel; after his ordination, he went to Rome to take courses at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Pontifical Athenaeum Angelicum, where he obtained a doctorate in Theology.

For the year 1948, he returned to Poland to practice his first pastoral ministry as vicar coadjutor of the parish of Niegowić, for 13 months. In November of that same year, he was qualified to be a professor at the Faculty of Theology of the Jagiellonian University.

On August 17, 1949, Karol Wojtyła was transferred as vicar to the parish of St. Florian, in Krakow, where he was part of the ministry for two years, in conjunction with a job as a counselor for the students and graduates of the State University of Krakow. On October 1, 1953, he was appointed Professor of Moral Theology and Social Ethics of the Metropolitan Seminary of Krakow, and a year later, he began to teach at the Faculty of Philosophy of the Catholic University of Lublin, where he was subsequently appointed the director.

He was consecrated as auxiliary bishop, by Pope Pius XII on July 4, 1958, in the Archdiocese of Krakow. From October 11, 1962, he began to be part of the Second Vatican Council, where he stood out for his specifications on modern atheism and religious freedom.

In 1962, after the death of Archbishop Baziak, he was chosen as the new vicar capitular. One year later, Pope Paul VI consecrated him Archbishop of Krakow. On December 8, 1965, he was part of the congregations for the Sacraments and Catholic Education, and of the Council for the Laity. He was named cardinal on May 29, 1967, at the age of 47 years.

After the death of Pope John Paul I, on October 16, 1978, Karol Wojtyła was chosen as the new pope at the age of 58, adopting the name of John Paul II. The new Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church aimed to place the church as a guide to the contemporary world in 5 directions:

  • New evangelization.
  • Ecumenism: Through dialogue and encounter with other Christian churches and religious confessions.
  • Ethical and social commitment.
  • Fight for peace
  • Doctrinal rigor

On May 13, 1981, during a tour in an open vehicle, John Paul II suffered an attack on his life, receiving several shots in the arm and abdomen. The pope managed to recover, although he was left with some sequelae that caused several health problems; nevertheless, in the year 1883, he visited in jail his aggressor, to grant him the pardon. Later, he suffered a new attack on a visit to Fatima, Portugal, where conservative priest Juan Fernandez Krohn tried to skewer him with a bayonet.

After the disasters in Armero, Colombia, John Paul II visited the site of the tragedy on July 1, 1986, where he prayed and named the place as a saint in honor of the victims.

Among the main facts of his pontificate are:

  • The first visit of a Pope to a Lutheran church: Rome, 1983.
  • First visit to a synagogue: Rome, 1986.
  • The World Day of Prayer for Peace: Assisi, 1986.
  • The excommunication of Bishop Marcel Lefebvre: 1988.
  • He visited Greece, an Orthodox country.
  • He entered the Damascus mosque in Syria.
  • The first meeting of a pope with a Muslim community: Casablanca, 1985.
  • Creation of the World Youth Days, from the Redemption Jubilee of 1983.
  • The meeting with the last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, in the month of December of the year 1989.

In the year 2000, for the first time, he went to the Holy Land, where he visited Mount Nebo, Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Nazareth and several towns in Galilee. He held a mass in the Bethlehem manger plaza, apologized at the Wailing Wall and in the Holocaust Museum for the sins committed by the Christians who persecuted the Jews. Finally, he celebrated a Mass at the Holy Sepulcher.

The aftermath of the attacks and health problems due to the advanced age of John Paul II caused him to leave praying little by little, so much so that, in March 2005, he was hospitalized for respiratory difficulties. Between March 31 and April 1 of that same year, he suffered an infection in the urinary tract, which caused septicemia. His health worsened further, and on April 2, 2005, he died from a cardiopulmonary collapse caused by Parkinson’s and septicemia, on the night before the Feast of Divine Mercy.

Sometime later, the fragment of a letter was released, which he dictated to his secretary Stanisław Dziwisz, moments before he died. The fragment said: “I am happy, be it also you. I do not want tears. Let’s pray together with satisfaction. In the Virgin, I trust everything happily”

On May 13, 2005, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, formally initiated the process of beatification of John Paul II; For that, on April 28 of that year, Benedict XVI gave a period of five years of waiting after his death to complete the beatification.

John Paul II – infographic For April 2, 2007, the diocesan phase of the process ended of beatification. Two years later, Pope Benedict XVI declared him venerable, since he was credited with a miracle. In January of 2011, the beatification of John Paul II was definitely authorized, a ceremony that took place on May 1, 2011, at the Feast of Divine Mercy. His remains were transferred from the Vatican crypt to the San Sebastián chapel of the Basilica of San Pedro. On July 5, 2013, Pope Francis authorized the canonization of John Paul II and John XXIII, a ceremony that took place On April 27, 2014, in Vatican City.



  • Rem. Hominis: March 4, 1979.
  • Dives in Misericordia: November 30, 1980.
  • Laborem Exercens: September 14, 1981.
  • Slavorum Apostoli: June 2, 1985.
  • Dominum et Vivificantem: May 18, 1986.
  • Redemptoris Mater: March 25, 1987.
  • Sollicitudo Rei Socialis: December 30, 1987.
  • Redemptoris Missio: December 7, 1990.
  • Centesimus Annus: May 1, 1991.
  • Veritatis Splendor: August 6, 1993.
  • Evangelium Vitae: March 25, 1995.
  • Un Unum Sint: May 25, 1995.
  • Fides et Ratio: September 14, 1998.
  • Church of Eucharistia: April 17, 2003.



  • My Vision of Man: Love and Responsibility: 1960.
  • Sign of contradiction, Person and Action.
  • Poems by Karol Wojtyła.Don and Mystery: November 15, 1996. Stand up! Come on !: May 2004.
  • Memory and identity, Roman tryptic. Meditations: 2003.
  • Crossing the threshold of hope.



  • Rosary (Rosario): 1994.
  • Rosary (In French): 1994.
  • Rosary (In English and Spanish): 1994.
  • Rosary (In Latin): 1994.
  • Rosary (In Portuguese): 1995.
  • Abbà Pater: 1999.
  • Mai Piu La Guerra: 2003.



  • The Pope who made the story produced: 2006.
  • John Paul II – I tell you my life: 2006.
  • The Keys to the Kingdom – From John Paul II to Benedict XVI: 2006.
  • John Paul II – His life, his Pontificate: 2006.
  • Juan Pablo II in the 90: 2001.
  • Visit Chile by Juan Pablo II: 1997 – 2005.
  • Da paese lontano (From a distant country): 1981.
  • Pope John Paul II (TV): 1984.
  • Karol: A man who became Pope: 2005.
  • Karol: The Pope, the man: 2006.

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