Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II (Latin: Ioannes Paulus PP. II; Italian: Papa Giovanni Paolo II; 18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005) was the 264th Pope (reigned: 16 October 1978 – April 2, 2005) is a Roman Catholic saint. His real name is Karol Józef Wojtyła (Polish: Listen Karol Józef Wojtyła).
He is the first non-Italian pope in 455 years since Pope Hadrian VI and the first Slavic pope in Christian history. He is also the youngest pope to be crowned among the popes of the 20th century. In addition, after nearly 27 years of office, he is the third longest-serving pope in history, after Peter, who served for 34 years, and Pope Pius IX, who served for 31 years.
During the reign of John Paul II, the Catholic Church gradually declined in developed countries, while it expanded in the Third World. John Paul II was the most traveled pope throughout his reign, visiting more than 100 countries than his predecessors. He is listed as one of the most traveled world leaders in history. He was also fluent in several languages, including his native Polish, Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Croatian, Portuguese, Russian and Latin. He supported the anti-communist movement in Eastern Europe, appealed for world peace and reversal, and in areas such as bioethics, he had a great influence on the whole world beyond religion by suggesting the traditional Christian moral view. In particular, he was respected by many for his consistent and moderate attitude toward inter-religious matters.
He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on May 1, 2011, and canonized jointly with Pope John XXIII by Pope Francis on April 27, 2014.
Karol Yusef Wojtywa was born on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, a village in southern Poland, the youngest of three children. His father, Karol Wojtiwa, was a reserve army officer, and his mother, Emilia Kachorovska, was an elementary school teacher from Lithuania. He was only nine years old when his mother passed away on April 13, 1929 from a chronic illness. In 1932, when Wojtiwa was 12, his brother Edmund, a doctor, was treating a patient with scarlet fever, and he himself died of infection. Before becoming his priest, he lost all of his family including his father, mother, older sister and older brother. As a child he had deep fellowship with the bustling Jewish community of his hometown. As a young man, he was very fond of sports, especially as a goalkeeper during soccer matches.
Vojtywa, nicknamed 'Lolek', after graduating from high school in 1938, entered the Jagiellonsky University of Krakow and entered the theater department. From his childhood days, he was a gifted all-rounder as an athlete, actor and screenwriter. He even won second prize for his poetry recitation at a speech festival hosted by a famous Polish actress, and worked as a lead actor or co-producer in a school drama class. And he excelled enough to receive an A grade in almost all subjects, and in Western studies including theology and liturgy, written (language used for writing, for example, words used in newspapers, academic articles, and magazines) and spoken language (speech) He was fluent in 10 languages, including Latin, Ukrainian, Greek, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, German, and English.