October 21, 2016

Optional Memorial of Saint John Paul II

St. John Paul the Great

October 22, is the optional memorial of Saint John Paul II. He was elected Pope on 16 October 1978. On 22 October, he began his ministry as universal Pastor of the Church. His papacy was a consequential one, earning him the designation St. John Paul the Great. Here is a retrospective on his life and his deep love for God.

Karol Józef Wojtyła was born 96 on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland, the youngest of three children, to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Wojtyla, (née Kaczorowska). The future pope's father was a non-commissioned officer of the Imperial Royal Army and a Polish Army captain. His mother had a premonition about her youngest child saying, "Karol is destined to be a great man." 

Young Wojtyla, c. 1929
Date of birth: May 18, 1920

Date of death: April 2, 2005

Birth place: Wadowice, Poland

Education: Doctorate in Philosophy, Doctorate in Sacred Theology, Jagiellonian University

Feast Day: October 22 (date of papal inauguration)

Apostolic Motto: Totus Tuus (Totally yours)

Notes of Interest:

Upon his election in 1978, John Paul II was the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years. At 58, he was the youngest pope since the election of Pope Pius IX (age 54), in 1846. During his pontificate, he visited 129 countries, travelling over 680,000 miles. He beatified 1,340 individuals and canonized 483 saints. While Bishop of Rome, he survived two attempts on his life. John Paul II is the third longest serving pontiff in history, behind St. Peter (32 years) and Pope Pius IX (31 years 7 months). He authored 14 encyclicals, 7 plays, 3 compilations of poetry and 16 books. He learned as many as twelve languages and spoke nine fluently as Pope: Polish, Latin, Ancient Greek, Italian, French, German, English, Spanish and Portuguese.

First pope to visit the White House.
 As a university student,
c. 1938-39

First modern pope to visit a synagogue.

First pope to visit Cuba.

Most widely traveled pope. (It has been suggested that John Paul II was seen in person by more people than any other figure in history.) 

Canonized more saints than any other pontiff.

Created 232 cardinals.

Re-established diplomatic relations with Great Britain 

Re-established diplomatic relations with the United States


May 18, 1920 - Karol Jozef Wojtyla is born in Wadowice, Poland, at 7 Koscielna Street. Nicknamed Lolek, he is the third and last child of Karol and Emilia. His brother Edmund was born in 1906 and a sister, Olga, died in infancy in 1914.

1938 - Karol graduates from high school. His family moves to Krakow. Karol attends Jagiellonian University until World War II begins in September 1939.

1941 - Wojtyla helps form an underground theater, called the Rhapsodic Theater. It presented works in Polish in defiance of the Nazis. During the day, Wojtyla labors in quarries and chemical factories.

1942 - Wojtyla studies at underground seminary run by Archbishop Sapieha.

Father Wojtyla, c 1947
1946 - Wojtyla is ordained a priest by Cardinal Sapieha.

1946-1948 - Wojtyla studies in Rome, earning a doctorate in philosophy. Later, he earns a doctorate in Sacred Theology from Jagellonian University.

1958 - Wojtyla is consecrated a bishop.

1962-1965 - Wojtyla participates in Vatican II. 

March 8, 1964 - Wojtyla is ordained Archbishop of Krakow.

June 26, 1967 - In a secret consistory, Wojtyla is elevated to cardinal.

October 16, 1978 - Cardinal Karol Wojtyla is elected the 264th pope.

October 2, 1979 - Addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations.

May 13, 1981 - Pope John Paul II is shot by Mehmet Ali Agca in Saint Peter's Square. He is seriously wounded in the abdomen, arm and hand. 

January 27, 1983 - He meets with Ali Agca at Rebibbia Prison.

December 26, 1994 - Time Magazine names him Man of the Year.

April 2, 2005 - Dies at 9:37 p.m. in his apartment in the Vatican.

April 8, 2005 - His funeral takes place in Saint Peter's Square. He is buried in a crypt under Saint Peter's Basilica.

May 2005 - Pope Benedict XVI waives the five year wait period for canonization.

May 1, 2011 - Is beatified by Pope Benedict XVI. 

April 27, 2014 - Is canonized a saint.

Pope John Paul II on Love - Chicago 1979:

Habemus Papam! Pope John Paul II presented to the world upon his election as Supreme Pontiff:

Prayer for the Intercession of Saint John Paul II

O Blessed Trinity,
we thank You for having graced the Church
with Saint John Paul II and for allowing
the tenderness of Your Fatherly care,
the glory of the cross of Christ,
and the splendor of the Holy Spirit,
to Shine through him.

Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy
and in the maternal intercession of Mary,
he has given us a living image of Jesus
the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that
holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary
Christian life and is the way of achieving
eternal communion with You.

Grant us, by his intercession,
and according to Your will,
the graces we implore...
We ask this through Jesus Christ Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You
and the Holy Spirit, one God,
forever and ever. Amen.

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