Karol Józef Wojtyła, known as John Paul II since his October 1978 election to the papacy, was born in the Polish town of Wadowice, a small city 50 kilometers from Krakow, on May 18, 1920. He was the youngest of three children born to Karol Wojtyła and Emilia Kaczorowska. His mother died in 1929. His eldest brother Edmund, a doctor, died in 1932 and his father, a non-commissioned army officer died in 1941. A sister, Olga, had died before he was born.

He was baptized on June 20, 1920 in the parish church of Wadowice by Fr. Franciszek Zak, made his First Holy Communion at age 9 and was confirmed at 18. Upon graduation from Marcin Wadowita high school in Wadowice, he enrolled in Krakow’s Jagiellonian University in 1938 and in a school for drama.

The Nazi occupation forces closed the university in 1939 and young Karol had to work in a quarry (1940-1944) and then in the Solvay chemical factory to earn his living and to avoid being deported to Germany.

In 1942, aware of his call to the priesthood, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Krakow, run by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, archbishop of Krakow. At the same time, Karol Wojtyła was one of the pioneers of the “Rhapsodic Theatre,” also clandestine.

After the Second World War, he continued his studies in the major seminary of Krakow, once it had re-opened, and in the faculty of theology of the Jagiellonian University. He was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Sapieha in Krakow on November 1, 1946.

Shortly afterwards, Cardinal Sapieha sent him to Rome where he worked under the guidance of the French Dominican, Garrigou-Lagrange. He finished his doctorate in theology in 1948 with a thesis on the subject of faith in the works of St. John of the Cross (Doctrina de fide apud Sanctum Ioannem a Cruce). At that time, during his vacations, he exercised his pastoral ministry among the Polish immigrants of France, Belgium and Holland.

In 1948 he returned to Poland and was vicar of various parishes in Krakow as well as chaplain to university students. This period lasted until 1951 when he again took up his studies in philosophy and theology. In 1953 he defended a thesis on “evaluation of the possibility of founding a Catholic ethic on the ethical system of Max Scheler” at Lublin Catholic University. Later he became professor of moral theology and social ethics in the major seminary of Krakow and in the Faculty of Theology of Lublin.

On July 4, 1958, he was appointed titular bishop of Ombi and auxiliary of Krakow by Pope Pius XII, and was consecrated September 28, 1958, in Wawel Cathedral, Krakow, by Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak.

On January 13, 1964, he was appointed archbishop of Krakow by Pope Paul VI, who made him a cardinal June 26, 1967 with the title of S. Cesareo in Palatio of the order of deacons, later elevated pro illa vice to the order of priests.

Besides taking part in Vatican Council II (1962-1965) where he made an important contribution to drafting the Constitution Gaudium et spes, Cardinal Wojtyła participated in all the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops.

The Cardinals elected him Pope at the Conclave of 16 October 1978, and he took the name of John Paul II. On 22 October, the Lord’s Day, he solemnly inaugurated his Petrine ministry as the 263rd successor to the Apostle. His pontificate, one of the longest in the history of the Church, lasted nearly 27 years.

Driven by his pastoral solicitude for all Churches and by a sense of openness and charity to the entire human race, John Paul II exercised the Petrine ministry with a tireless missionary spirit, dedicating it all his energy. He made 104 pastoral visits outside Italy and 146 within Italy. As bishop of Rome he visited 317 of the city’s 333 parishes.

He had more meetings than any of his predecessors with the People of God and the leaders of Nations. More than 17,600,000 pilgrims participated in the General Audiences held on Wednesdays (more than 1160), not counting other special audiences and religious ceremonies [more than 8 million pilgrims during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 alone], and the millions of faithful he met during pastoral visits in Italy and throughout the world. We must also remember the numerous government personalities he encountered during 38 official visits, 738 audiences and meetings held with Heads of State, and 246 audiences and meetings with Prime Ministers.

His love for young people brought him to establish the World Youth Days. The 19 WYDs celebrated during his pontificate brought together millions of young people from all over the world. At the same time his care for the family was expressed in the World Meetings of Families, which he initiated in 1994.

John Paul II successfully encouraged dialogue with the Jews and with the representatives of other religions, whom he several times invited to prayer meetings for peace, especially in Assisi.

Under his guidance the Church prepared herself for the third millennium and celebrated the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 in accordance with the instructions given in the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio adveniente. The Church then faced the new epoch, receiving his instructions in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, in which he indicated to the faithful their future path.

With the Year of the Redemption, the Marian Year and the Year of the Eucharist, he promoted the spiritual renewal of the Church.

He gave an extraordinary impetus to Canonizations and Beatifications, focusing on countless examples of holiness as an incentive for the people of our time. He celebrated 147 beatification ceremonies during which he proclaimed 1,338 Blesseds; and 51 canonizations for a total of 482 saints. He made Thérèse of the Child Jesus a Doctor of the Church.

He considerably expanded the College of Cardinals, creating 231 Cardinals (plus one in pectore) in 9 consistories. He also called six full meetings of the College of Cardinals.

He organized 15 Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops – six Ordinary General Assemblies (1980, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994 and 2001), one Extraordinary General Assembly (1985) and eight Special Assemblies (1980,1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, 1998 (2) and 1999).

His most important Documents include 14 Encyclicals, 15 Apostolic Exhortations, 11 Apostolic Constitutions, 45 Apostolic Letters.

He promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the light of Tradition as authoritatively interpreted by the Second Vatican Council. He also reformed the Eastern and Western Codes of Canon Law, created new Institutions and reorganized the Roman Curia.

As a private Doctor he also published five books of his own: “Crossing the Threshold of Hope” (October 1994), “Gift and Mystery, on the fiftieth anniversary of my ordination as priest” (November 1996), “Roman Triptych” poetic meditations (March 2003), “Arise, Let us Be Going” (May 2004) and “Memory and Identity” (February 2005).

In the light of Christ risen from the dead, on 2 April a.D. 2005, at 9.37 p.m., while Saturday was drawing to a close and the Lord’s Day was already beginning, the Octave of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday, the Church’s beloved Pastor, John Paul II, departed this world for the Father.

From that evening until April 8, date of the funeral of the late Pontiff, more than three million pilgrims came to Rome to pay homage to the mortal remains of the Pope. Some of them queued up to 24 hours to enter St. Peter’s Basilica.

On April 28, the Holy Father Benedict XVI announced that the normal five-year waiting period before beginning the cause of beatification and canonization would be waived for John Paul II. The cause was officially opened by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general for the diocese of Rome, on June 28 2005.

Pope John Paul II, along with Pope Saint John XXIII was canonized on April 27 by Pope Francis l with Pope Benedict XVI in attendance.

Get our inspiring content delivered to your inbox every morning - FREE!


  1. With your contribution to the church the faithful have grown stronger and have shown love to the family well being, please prays for us the Holy Father.

  2. With your contribution to the church the faithful have grown stronger and have shown love to the family well being, please prays for us the Holy Father.
    Bush Miranda

  3. Thank you for all that you have done for us in this world. Please Blessed Pope John Paul II, continue praying for us and interceed to the Father and present to him our prayer. I want to especially Thank You for visiting our little Island of Guam in February of 1981, thank you so much for blessing us and gracing us with your presence, you are trully a Pope for all people, coming to see your flock even in distant lands… rest now from your labors for your good deeds go before you and will forever be in the hearts of the faithfull…

  4. what a truly blessed man! he was the most single influencial man in the church that brought people to the heart. even if you weren’t catholic,he made you feel his deep love and devotion to Mary and the church. he is truly an inspiring figure and will be the greatest Pope the world has ever known. Truly a wonderful man!

  5. I was lucky enough to see you in Rome, even though I was not a catholic at that time. You were my inspiration. Please pray for me and my family.

  6. Your powers still manifest even after your death. The church and the world still need your intercession. Oh the wonderful saint pray for us.

  7. I was so fortunate to be able to go to Rome in 1998 and was so happy to see you from a great distance as I sat in a Globus Tour bus. Saint John Paul ll please interceed to the father for us . Please pray for me, my family and for all of us. Thank you for your good deeds that you have done. You will never be forgotten and will forever be in our hearts.
    Brenda DiPilato

  8. Dearest Papa,you are an epitome of love,mercy, blessing n favour to this generation.Thank you so much for your good works.I love you so much.

  9. Saint Pope John Paul 11, please intercede on behalf of all of us that are suffering both physically and mentally. Help us carry our cross until God answers our prayers.

  10. Pope Saint John Paul 2, please pray fo me Pascale Andrée Joseph. Please pray for my mother Marie Françoise Faustin Joseph and my father André Joseph. Pope Saint John Paul 2, please pray GOD to bless me Pascale Andrée Joseph with health and money. Please pray GOD to bless my mother Marie Françoise Faustin with health, with a visa America (United States) and with money. Please pray GOD to bless Machenson Pierre-Louis with health, with jobs and with money. Pope Saint John Paul 2, please pray GOD to bring Francis Concite to me Pascale Andrée Joseph. Please pray GOD to divide Gertha the Sister of Francis Concite with the wife of Francis Concite. Pope Saint John Paul 2, please pray GOD to divide Gertrude Delfils the niece of Francis Concite with the wife of Francis Concite. Pope Saint John Paul 2, please pray GOD to divide all the family of Francis Concite with the wife of Francis Concite. Pope Saint John Paul 2, please pray GOD to divide Francis Concite with his wife. Pope Saint John Paul bring all the family of Francis Concite to me.

  11. Thank you Dearest John Paul for your serving heart. We love you and ask as my Patron saint that you continue praying on our behalf. We especially need your intercession on behalf of the unborn and for people to identify with the gender they are born with. We ask this in Jesus name Amen.

  12. Dearest Saint Pope John Paul II, thank you for your life, and faithful testimony to Jesus Christ, for your trust in the Lord, for your meekness in the Lord, for courage, endurance, sacrifice, hope. Please, pray for me, I need your help, with forgiveness, you did it, you showed us supernatural mercy in the natural world. Help me, please, the bitterness doesn’t heal regardless of how much I truthfully will to release everything and everyone to the Lord, I want to be free to love Jesus wholly, and I repeat to myself that as a child of God not only have I been forgiven but made able and ready to forgive, through the Victory of Jesus at the Cross, and I feel safe in taking all of it and placing it lovingly at the foot of the Cross, with Mother Mary, I believe I do, let go, sincerely, but then the hurt comes back stronger, and strikes fiercely, and persecutes me, and worsens as if the wounds were infected, and causes more spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical damage. I am in excruciating pain. I pray. I confess. I do penance. I will not give up. I trust Jesus. He knows everything. I trust His Saints. I trust you. Please John Paul II, help me, I ask for your most holy intercession, please help me receive the grace of true forgiveness in fullness of spirit, mind, heart, and body, with thanksgiving and praise to God, that I can pray the Our Father without feeling I betray and add injury to Our Redeemer every time I say it. Help me obtain the heavenly gift to forgive in the authority of Christ, I want a clean heart for Jesus. Thank you, beloved Saint.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here