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 early life
He was baptized on June 20, 1920 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).
In 1942, aware of his call to the priesthood, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Krakow, run by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha. 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 hadre-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.
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.
In 1948 he returned to Poland and was vicar of various parishes in Krakow as well as chaplain to universitystudents. This period lasted until 1951 when he again took up his studies in philosophy and theology. 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.
The Cardinals elected him Pope at the Conclave of 16October 1978, and he took the name of John Paul II.
His pontificate, one of the longest in the history of the Church, lasted nearly 27 years.
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.
We must also rememberthe 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 carefor 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 itself for the third millennium and celebrated the Great Jubileeof the year 2000 in accordance with the instructions given in the Apostolic Letter Tertio Millennio adveniente.
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 482saints.
His most important Documents include 14 Encyclicals, 15 Apostolic Exhortations, 11 Apostolic Constitutions, 45 Apostolic Letters.
The cause of beatification
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...