Pope John Paul II was born Karol Józef Wojtyła on May 18,1920 in Wadowice, Poland. The doctor urged his mother to abort him. His mother a devout Catholic refused and delivered him. His family was devoutly Catholic. In 1929, his mother died and he was raised by his father. As a boy, he was athletic, often playing footballer as a goalkeeper. As he grew up, he was a very smart individual and learned to speak in Polish, Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, German, Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak and Esperanto. In 1939, Nazi Germany invaded his home country of Poland and Jagiellonian University, where he attended was shut down. In 1941, his father died of a hear attack. After his father’s death, he decided to seriously thinking of becoming a priest and in October 1942, began his studying for the priesthood in the clandestine underground seminary run by the Archbishop of Kraków, Adam Stefan Cardinal Sapieha. After the war, on All Saints’ Day, November 1,1946, he was ordained a priest. In 1947, he visited Padre Pio, who heard his confession and told him that one day he would ascend to “the highest post in the Church”. On July 4,1958, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Kraków, Poland by Pope Pius XII. On January 13,1964, he was appointed Archbishop of Kraków, Poland and on June 26,1967, he was named a Cardinal. He was instrumental in formulating the 1968 Papal enyclical, Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), which dealt with issues that upheld Catholic Church teachings on abortion and artificial birth control. On October 16,1978, he was elected Pope of the Catholic Church. He became the youngest Pope and the first Polish Pope. His first visit as Pope was to the Dominican Republic on January 25,1979. He also visited the United States from October 1 to October 8,1979. On May 13,1981, as he entered the St. Peter’s Square to address an audience, he was shot and critically wounded by Mehmet Ali Ağca. The assassin used a Browning 9 mm semi-automatic pistol, shooting Pope John Paul II in the abdomen and perforating his colon and small intestine multiple times. He was rushed into the Vatican complex and to Gemelli Hospital. On the way to the hospital he lost consciousness. He lost nearly three-quarters of his blood and underwent 5 hours of surgery. Before the operation, he instructed doctors not to remove his Brown Scapular. He made had a successful surgery and credited, Our Lady of Fatima for keeping him alive. Ağca was caught and strained by a nun and other bystanders until police arrived to arrest him. He was sentenced life in prison. On December 27,1983, Pope John Paul II visited Ağca in prison and had a twenty minute conversation with him and during the conversation he forgave Ağca. Pope John Paul II was a staunch anti-Communist and was instrumental along with US President Ronald Reagan and UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in bringing down Communism in Eastern Europe. His Papacy was strongly conservative in teachings, he opposed abortion, Communism, euthanasia, contraception, liberation theology, and women’s ordination.During his trip. In 1994, he condemned US President Bill Clinton for his support of abortion. In 1995, he wrote the Papal encyclical Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life) in which he condemned abortion, euthanasia, and capital punishment. A devotee of Sister Faustina Kowalska, he canonized her a Saint on April 30,2000 and instituted the Sunday after Easter as “Divine Mercy Sunday”. He died on April 2,2005 in Vatican City. On April 27,2014, he was canonized a Saint by Pope Francis.
Pope John Paul II: The Saint who brought down Communism