The Journey: Pope and Saint (1920-2005)

by John Alex | The life of Pope Saint John Paul (Holyart.com).

Pope and Saint John Paul II, was born Karol Józef Wojtyła on May the 18th, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland to a prosperous and Catholic family. His father was an officer in the army.  The future Pope had a happy childhood and he loved sports. He was also an excellent student. However, most of his family died by the then he was twenty.  The young Karol attended the best university in Poland. During World War II, Poland was invaded and they closed the universities and Karol was forced to work as a laborer. During a rebellion by the Poles against the Nazis, he was very lucky not to have been shot. During the war, he saw many terrible things and he drew ever closer to God.

During the German occupation, he saved the several Jews from death at the hands of the Nazis. He was later honored in Israel for his bravery and courage in saving these people.

At the end of the war, the future Pope  continued his studies and he was ordained a priest in 1946. He was a brilliant young man and he was sent to Rome to study further. Father Karol as he was known then, returned to Poland and worked as a parish priest in rural Poland. He was very happy as a parish priest and would later recall this time as being especially happy.

Poland was now ruled by Communists who hated all religions. The secret agents and police would spy on and harass Catholics, including the future Pope John Paul. In 1958 at a very young age John Paul was appointed Archbishop. Now, he defended Catholics against the communists even though it meant that he was often in real danger.

The young Pope John Paul had a brilliant mind and was invited by the Pope to take part in the Second Vatican Council.  The future Pope wrote several important Encyclicals. These were very significant in that they forbade Catholics from using contraception. One of the future Pope’s Encyclicals stated that it was a mortal sin for any believer to get an abortion. Pope John Paul wrote a great deal and his books are still read today.  He greatly impressed the Pope and in 1967, John Paul was elected a Cardinal. The future Pope was in effect the leader of the Catholic Church in Poland and he did much to help his homeland and defend the church from attacks by the communists.

After the sudden death of Pope John Paul I, he was elected Pope. He took the name Pope John Paul II out of respect for his predecessor. He was the first Pope from outside Italy in over four centuries.

John Paul immediately began to change the Papacy. He wanted to be a ‘people’ s Pope’. He traveled widely and visited many countries.  He was hugely popular among Catholics and non-Catholics. Pope John Paul would attack all forms of social injustice and tyranny.

This was to have important consequences in his homeland. The fact that the Pope was Polish inspired many Poles to resist communism. Because of this in 1980 the Soviet Union tried to kill the Pope. Despite being shot several times, the Pope managed to survive by a miracle.  This only made him more popular and he inspired even more people in Eastern Europe to resist their communist governments. Many believe that this led to the end of communism in Europe in 1989.

As Pope, he often attacked the greed of western society.  He was also a peacemaker and condemned all forms of violence.

John Paul was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in the late 1990s.  Still he continued to work and continued to travel. Despite being in great pain he was cheerful and he inspired many. Pope John Paul II refused to retire and continued as Pope until his death in 2005. His death was widely mourned all over the world.

Not long after he died there were many miracles reported. Many people who had prayed to the dead Pope claimed that they had been healed of serious diseases. Because of all these miracles Pope John Paul was beatified and he was canonized a saint in 2014. He was one of the most popular Popes in history and many call him Pope John Paul the Great.

Author Bio:John Alex works with Holyart.com offers Catholics a wide range of religious items.  You may follow him on Twitter.