Pope Saint John Paul II died on the 2nd of April 2005 at the age of 84; he served as Pope from 1978 to 2005.
Born Karol Józef Wojtyła on the 18th of May 1920, he was elected by the second Papal conclave of 1978, which was called after Pope John Paul I, who was elected in August after the death of Pope Paul VI, died after thirty-three days.
Cardinal Wojtyła was elected on the third day of the conclave and adopted his predecessor’s name in tribute to him.
In the years since his death, John Paul II has been canonised as a saint by the Catholic Church.
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 people and canonised483 saints, 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.
A key goal of his papacy was to transform and reposition the Catholic Church. 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.
Growing up, John Paul was athletic and enjoyed skiing and swimming. He went to Krakow’s Jagiellonian University in 1938 where he showed an interest in theater and poetry.
The school was closed the next year by Nazi troops during the German occupation of Poland. Wanting to become a priest, John Paul began studying at a secret seminary run by the archbishop of Krakow.
After World War II ended, he finished his religious studies at a Krakow seminary and was ordained in 1946.
John Paul spent two years in Rome where he finished his doctorate in theology. He returned to his native Poland in 1948 and served in several parishes in and around Krakow.
John Paul became the bishop of Ombi in 1958 and then the archbishop of Krakow six years later. Considered one of the Catholic Church’s leading thinkers, he participated in the Second Vatican Council—sometimes called Vatican II.
On the 19th of December 2009, John Paul II was proclaimed Venerable by his successor Pope Benedict XV Iand was beatified on the 1st of 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 the 2nd of 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).
In his later years, John Paul’s health appeared to be failing. At public appearances, he moved slowly and seemed unsteady on his feet.
He also visibly trembled at times. One of his doctors also disclosed that John Paul had Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder often characterized by shaking, in 2001.