Pope John Paul II is back in the headlines… thanks to his imminent beatification ceremony, set to take place at the Vatican on May 1st. Born Karol Wojtyla in Poland, Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian to rule the Vatican in more than 500 years. And his rule, at 26 years, was the second longest in papal history.
Born in Poland in 1920, he lost his mother when he was 8, his brother when he was 12, and his father at 20. His entire immediate family.
“I was not at my mother’s death, I was not at my brother’s death, I was not at my father’s death,” he said nearly 40 years later.
A German truck crashed into him years later. The Nazi officers actually tended his wounds and sent him to hospital, something so shocking, he saw it as a divine confirmation of his career as a priest.
He taught ethics at a university in Krakow, earned a second doctorate in philosophy, and wrote poetry, plays, and articles on Church issues. The wildly popular Polish pope earned the nickname the “Pilgrim Pope” for his ability to attract thousands of eager pilgrims to his public appearances.
He traveled to Poland in 1979, a trip that helped inspire the illegal, anti-communist Solidarity movement, and later gave tacit support to the movement that would help defeat Soviet domination.
Source: Walks of Italy