On October 16, 1978, Karol Józef Wojtyla was elected the 264th pope and bishop of Rome, the one who would be known as the pope of the millennium, friend of children, leader of youth and intercessor for families. Just as his successor John Paul I had adopted his name in honor of the two pontiffs who preceded him, John XXIII and Paul VI, Cardinal Wojtyla wanted to do the same to pay homage to his predecessors and join their mission to fulfill the directives of the Second Vatican Council. Born on May 18, 1920, in the Polish city of Wadowice, his election to the Throne of St. Peter came as a surprise to the whole world and despair to Soviet leaders. The surprise was due to the fact that John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope since Adrian VI (1522-1523), and despair because he had come from a Poland that had suffered for decades from the oppression of the communist regime. In fact, St. John Paul II was tireless in the anti-communist fight: in his home country, in 1989, until the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the end of communism had a fundamental contribution from our Holy Pope.
With the third longest papacy in history, St. John Paul II reformed the Code of Canon Law; edited the New Vulgate; developed the Theology of the Body; published the official Catechism of the Catholic Church; instituted World Youth Day; wrote numerous encyclicals, such as Fides et Ratio and Veritatis Splendor; among many other important actions for the Church. St. John Paul II’s pontificate was marked by his great love for the Eucharist and his deep devotion to Our Lady, which even appears on his coat of arms bearing the motto Totus Tuus. His devotion to the Blessed Virgin can also be seen after the attack he suffered on May 13, 1981. Pope John Paul II was shot while greeting the crowds in St. Peter’s Square by the Turk Ali Agca and attributed his salvation to the Virgin of Fatima. The following year, he visited Fatima and placed the bullet from the shooting in the crown of Our Lady’s image. Ecclesia de Eucaristia, his famous encyclical which takes up the liturgical-spiritual teaching of the Second Vatican Council, recalls the fundamental elements of the teaching on the Eucharist.
The pontiff’s travels were a landmark of his papacy: John Paul II made history as the pope who traveled the most: in total there were 104 international trips and 146 in Italy, with 129 countries visited on five continents. One characteristic of his trips was the kiss he gave the ground when he arrived. Over the years, the Pontiff’s attention turned to the celebration of the Holy Jubilee Year 2000. This event took on a highly symbolic meaning in the context of his pastoral mission and had a strong penitential importance. The closing of the Jubilee ushered in the final phase of his pontificate, which was marked especially by the progressive deterioration of the Pope’s health, who after a long and distressing agony died on the evening of April 2, 2005. His death caused worldwide commotion and brought thousands of people to Rome to bid farewell to the great pope.
The final Mass of the papal funeral brought together heads of state and dignitaries, including leaders of hostile nations. With great appeal for his immediate canonization, Pope Benedict XVI granted the dispensation from the five years of waiting prescribed for the beginning of the cause of canonization and proclaimed him Blessed on May 1, 2011. On April 27, 2014, Pope John Paul II was canonized by Pope Francis. On October 22, we celebrate the liturgical memory of Saint John Paul II, a saint of our time who lived holiness in a concrete way during his life. Known as the Pope of love and youth, St. John Paul II is one of the patron saints of the Merciful Gaze Community, as an intercessor and witness for Christians who seek holiness.
EVERT, Jason. Vida de São João Paulo II. 2ed. Dois Irmãos-RS: Minha Biblioteca Católica, 2023.
O Peregrino da Paz. Guia 14, Ano 2. Minha Biblioteca Católica, 2023.