Pope John Paul II

Home - Holy Father - John Paul II - Encyclicals - Books - Exhortations

"Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" (John 21:15).

A Brief Biography

Pope John Paul II was born Karol Jozef Wojtya on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice Poland.  There were three children in the family, two boys and one girl.  Unfortunately, Karol's sister died soon after birth. Karol's father, Karol Sr., was retired from the Polish Military.  His mother was Emilia and his older brother was Edmund.

Karol's mother Emilia died on April 13, 1929.  Karol was only 9 years old.  In spite of such a tremendous loss and thanks to his loving father, brother, and his faith, Karol succeeded in academics and sports.

Karol suffered another great loss when his older brother Edmund died from Scarlet Fever on December 5, 1932.  He contracted it from a patient while studying to be a medical doctor.  Karol still managed to graduate at the top of his high school class.

Another great tragedy was to affect Karol and his father.  Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939.  Karol experienced first hand the brutal treatment of his Jewish friends and the attempted elimination of the Polish culture.

At age 20, Karol found his father, Karol Sr., dead at home after coming home from work on February18, 1941.  Karol lost his sister, mother, brother, and father and was responsible for taking care of himself while still living under the Nazi occupation at the age of 21.

God called Karol to become a priest and he generously responded.  In 1942 Karol entered an underground seminary.  Karol was ordained a priest on November 1, 1946 and went to Rome for advanced studies.  He returned to Poland once he finished.

On December 1, 1956 Karol was appointed to the Chair of Ethics at the Lublin Catholic University. Karol possessed a profound understanding of the human person and articulated it to his students.  He was elevated to Bishop of Krakow on September 28, 1958 by Pope Pius XII.  From 1962 to 1965 Karol participated in the Second Vatican Council.  Pope Paul VI made him a Cardinal on June 28, 1967.  Then, by the providence of God, Karol was elected Bishop of Rome on October 16, 1978 and took the title John Paul II.

John Paul II used the Chair of Peter to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations.  John Paul's reign was the third longest of all the popes, 26 years.  He traveled over 750,000 miles or more than 29 times around the earth.  He proclaimed 1,338 Blesseds and 51 canonizations for a total of 482 Saints. He received 17 million people in general audiences, between 2 and 4 million people in special groups and heads of state, and millions more for liturgical celebrations in Rome and around the world.  He initiated World Youth Day and celebrated 19 of them around the world.

On April 2, 2005 John Paul II made his final journey.  He passed over to his Heavenly Father.  It was the Octave of Easter and the beginning of Divine Mercy Sunday; the very day John Paul II instituted to proclaim God's Mercy as taught by Saint Faustina Kowalska - a Polish nun - whom he canonized.

Enough thanks cannot be given to our beloved Pope John Paul II and to God for giving him to us.  We miss him dearly and are glad to have him in total union with the one true living God.  We are certain that he is one of the greatest intercessors within the Communion of Saints, for there is only one Bride of Christ, which united to her Divine Spouse Jesus Christ, spans from time to eternity.




A copious biography of Pope John Paul II can be read in the book, Witness To Hope - The Biography of John Paul II, by George Weigel, published by Harper - Perennial.  The book sells for $15.00 from most bookstores.


Home - Terms of Use - References - Contact