Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II – Karol Józef Wojtyła was born on 18 May 1920 in Wadowice, and died on 2 April 2005 in Vatican. The Archbishop of Cracow, the Cardinal, the Pope from 16 October 1978 to 2 April 2005, the Venerable of the Catholic Church. Theologian, writer, poet and polyglot, as well as actor, play writer, and educator. As a philosopher – phenomenologist he was a representative of Christian personalism.
Karol Józef Wojtyła attended Elementary School and Grammar-School in Wadowice. When he was 9 years old his mother died, and 3 years later his brother too. He passed his secondary school finals in May 1938 and started his Polish studies at the Jagellonian University in Cracow. The outbreak of the II world war interrupted his studies. He started to work as a worker, a shop-boy, a helpmate of a shot-firer in a quarry. He participated actively together with his friends in artistic and literary activities. In 1942 he started to study at a clandestine study group of the Faculty of Theology at the Jagellonian University in Cracow – as a seminarist of the secretive Seminary of the Cracow Archdiocese. In April 1945 he undertook duties of junior assistant in the Faculty of Theology at the Jagellonian University in Cracow.
In 1946 he took holy orders of diakonate. He was ordained a priest by Cardinal Adam Sapieha on 1 October 1946. Two weeks later, he went to Rome to study at the “Angelicum” Pope’s University. He was conferred on a diploma of Master of Arts in theology of the Jagellonian University in Cracow in 1948.
Upon graduation he undertook duties of a vicar of the parish in Niegowić. All the time he participated actively together with the youth in the intellectual, sports and cultural life. In March 1949 he was moved to the Saint Florian parish in Cracow. He was a lecturer in seminaries in Katowice, Częstochowa, Cracow and Lublin. He received consecration of a bishop on 28 September 1958 and he selected words “Totus Tuus” (All Yours) as his motto. He participated actively in proceedings of the II Vatican Ecumenical Council. He was a member of four congregations for: Clergy; Catholic Upbringing; Devotion to God and Discipline of Sacraments; Eastern Churches. He was appointed archbishop metropolitan of Cracow on 30 December 1963. On 9 July 1967 he was given a cardinal’s biretta by Pope Paul VI personally. And at last on 16 October 1978 he was elected Pope. He was the first Pope of Polish origin and the first Pope of non-Italian origin after 455 years of Italian papacy (from Hadrian VI). His pontificate featured a deep involvement in fighting against social poverty, penury and injustice, and in activities for the benefit of world peace and safety. He was a Pope-Pilgrim bringing words of God and words of Peace to people all over the world. He led the Church to the third millennium. He renewed the face of the Church and the world being an advocate of a religious, political and social dialog.
During a period of 26 years of his pontificate, John Paul II made 14 encyclicals, among others, “Redemtor Hominis” (“Redeemer of a Human Being”), Dives in Misericordia” (“Rich with Charity”), “Laborem exercens” (“From Labour”), “Redemtoris Mater” (“Redeemer’s Mother”), “Veritatis splendor” (Splendour of the Truth”), “Evangelium vitae” (“Gospel of life”) where he discussed the most essential problems of the Church doctrine of faith, Church organization, Christian life, worship, and social issues. Nearly every of them became a great event not only in the catholic world.
On 2 June 1997 during his 5th pilgrimage to his fatherland, Pope John Paul II celebrated mass at the Legnica airfield in which 300000 people participated. During the mass Pope John Paul II made coronation of the icon of Our Lady known as the picture of Our Lady of Krzeszów, and he blessed corner-stones of new churches.