+ Karol Wojtyla was born in Poland in 1920. Ordained a priest in 1946, he earned doctorates in theology and philosophy and held the Chair of Ethics at the Catholic University of Lublin.
+ In 1958, he was ordained bishop of Ombi and, in 1963, appointed archbishop of Krakow. As bishop, he took part in the Second Vatican Council.
+ Elected pope on October 16, 1978, he took the name John Paul II.
+ One of the most influential people of the 20th century, he was a vocal opponent of communism and the “culture of death.”
+ A pastor for the world, he traveled to more than 100 countries during his 26-year pontificate, preaching the universal call to holiness of the Second Vatican Council and calling for a “new evangelization” of the Church.
+ After years of suffering debilitating disease, John Paul II died on April 2, 2005, and was canonized with Pope Saint John XXIII in 2014.
Pope Saint John Paul II succeeded Pope John Paul I who had served as bishop of Rome for only 33 days. This pope, who was born as Albino Luciano in 1912, selected the name “John Paul” in honor of the two preceding popes: Pope Saint John XXIII and Blessed Pope Paul VI. At the time of his election, Pope Saint John Paul II chose his name also an act of homage for these two popes and, it could thought, for respect for his predecessor John Paul I, whom he named a servant of God in 2003, opening the path to sainthood for the short-lived pontiff.
“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.”—Pope Saint John Paul II
O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that Saint John Paul the Second
should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(from The Roman Missal)
Saint profiles prepared by Brother Silas Henderson, S.D.S.Access our archives of daily saint biographies here