- 264th Pope
- First non-Italian pope since Adrian VI (Dutch, 1522-1523)
- Youngest (age 58 at election) since Pius IX (aged 54 at election in 1846)
- 3rd longest pontificate in history
CARDINALS AND SAINTS:
- 92 papal visits to 122 countries
- Over 1 million kilometres travelled outside Italy
- 500 days spent travelling
- Over 3,000 speeches made on travels
- 3 million people, Manila 1995 - largest public crowd ever for one person
- Made 231 cardinals
- 482 canonisations (saints)
- 1,338 beatifications (blesseds)
- Hundreds of letters and messages, including 14 encyclicals and 3 books.
- 1979 - Redemptor Hominis - on redemption and dignity of human race
- 1980 - Dives et Misericordia - on God's mercy
- 1981 - Laborem Exercens - on human work
- 1985 - Slavorum Apostoli - on Sts Cyril and Methodius
- 1986 - Dominum et Vivificantem - on the Holy Spirit
- 1987 - Redemptoris Mater - on Mary
- 1987 - Sollicitudo Rei Socialis - on social concerns
- 1991 - Redemptoris Missio - on the Church's mission
- 1991 - Centesimus Annus - on work and social questions
- 1993 - Veritatis Splendor - on the Church's moral teaching
- 1995 - Evangelium Vitae - on human life
- 1995 - Ut Unum Sint - on ecumenism
- 1998 - Fides et Ratio - on faith and reason
- 2003 - Ecclesia de Eucharistia - on the Eucharist
Pope John Paul II - a Brief Biography:
- 1994 - Crossing the Threshold of Hope
- 1996 - Gift and Mystery
- 2003 - Roman Tryptych - Meditations
Karol Wojtyla was born in Wadowice, Poland, on 18 May 1920, the son of a captain
in the Polish army and a school teacher. His mother died when he was eight years
old and his elder brother died when he was twelve.
In 1938 he entered the Jagiellonian University in Cracow to read language and literature
in the department of philosophy. His studies were interrupted by the war and he
went to work in a stone quarry and then a chemical plant. After his father's death
in 1942 he entered the secret seminary (college for the training of priests) in
Wojtyla was ordained priest in 1946 and sent to Rome to complete his studies. There
he obtained a doctorate from the Pontifical Angelicum University. Returning to Poland,
he worked as assistant priest in a village parish and as chaplain to university
students, while continuing his studies for a second doctorate at the Catholic University
of Lublin. In 1953 he began teaching at the university.
Bishop and Archbishop:
On September 28, 1958, Wojtyla was made an Auxiliary Bishop of Cracow, and then
its Archbishop on January 13,1964, the first residential Archbishop of that Diocese
since 1951 (because of communist restrictions). He went to Rome for the Second Vatican
Council and attended all its sessions from October 1962 to December 1965. He was
a contributor to three documents that emerged from the Council, the Constitution
on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes), the Declaration on Religious
Freedom (Dignitatis Humanae) and the Decree on the Instruments on Social Communication
Pope Paul VI made Wojtyla a cardinal in June 1967 at the unusually young age of
46, and appointed him to serve in the Vatican's Congregation (department) for Sacraments
and Divine Worship, the Congregation for the Clergy, and the Congregation for Catholic
Education, while still resident in Cracow. He also worked on the consultation that
preceded the publication of the Pope's encyclical on the regulation of births, Humanae
Vitae in 1968
In August 1978 Pope Paul VI died and his successor (Pope John Paul I) lived for
just 33 days on the papal throne. On 16 October, the second day of voting, Cardinal
Wojtyla was elected Pope and chose the name John Paul in honour of his predecessor.
He was the first Polish Pope and the first non-Italian since the Dutchman Adrian
VI (1522-1523). He was the youngest (58) at the time of his election since Pius
IX (1846-1878). In May 1998 he became the longest reigning Pope of this century.
Besides taking part in Vatican Council II with an important contribution to the
elaboration of the Constitution Gaudium et Spes, Cardinal Wojtyla participated in
all the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops.
Since the start of his Pontificate on October 16, 1978, Pope John Paul II completed
104 pastoral visits outside of Italy and 146 within Italy. As Bishop of Rome he
visited 317 of the 333 parishes.
His principal documents include 14 encyclicals, 15 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic
constitutions and 44 apostolic letters. The Pope also published five books: "Crossing
the Threshold of Hope" (October 1994); "Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary
of My Priestly Ordination" (November 1996); "Roman Triptych - Meditations", a book
of poems (March 2003); "Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way" (May 2004) and "Memory and Identity"
(publication spring 2005).
John Paul II presided at 147 beatification ceremonies (1,338 Blesseds proclaimed)
and 51 canonization ceremonies (482 Saints) during his pontificate. He held 9 consistories
in which he created 231 (+ 1 in pectore) cardinals. He also convened six plenary
meetings of the College of Cardinals.
From 1978 to 2005, presided at 15 Synods of Bishops: six ordinary (1980, 1983, 1987,
1990, 1994, 2001), one extraordinary (1985) and eight special (1980, 1991, 1994,
1995, 1997, 1998  and 1999).
No other Pope encountered so many individuals like John Paul II: to date, more than
17,600,000 pilgrims have participated in the General Audiences held on Wednesdays
(more than 1,160). Such figure is without counting all other special audiences and
religious ceremonies held [more than 8 million pilgrims during the Great Jubilee
of the Year 2000 alone] and the millions of faithful met during pastoral visits
made in Italy and throughout the world. It must also be remembered the numerous
government personalities encountered during 38 official visits and in the 737 audiences
and meetings held with Heads of State, and even the 245 audiences and meetings with