Early Life

Karol Józef Wojtyła was born on 18 May 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. His parents were Karol Wojtyła and Emilia Kaczorowska. He was the youngest of three children. He was nine years old when his mother died in 1929. His father supported him so that he could study. His brother was a doctor. He died when Wojtyła was twelve. He lost everyone in his family - a sister, brother, mother, and father - before he became a priest. He played sports. He liked football (soccer) as a goalkeeper.

Wojtyła went to Marcin Wadowita high school in Wadowice. In 1938, he studied drama at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. He worked as a volunteer librarian. He was an athlete, actor, and playwright. He did two months military training in the Academic Legion. This training was compulsory. He would not hold or fire a weapon.

When he was young, he met many Jewish people. They lived in that area. In 1939, Nazi forces closed the Jagiellonian University. All men, except for the disabled, had to have a job. From 1940 to 1944, Wojtyła worked in a restaurant. He also worked in a limestone quarry, and then as a salesman for a chemical factory. He did not want to be sent to Germany. If he was sent, he would be made to join the German army. His father died of a heart attack in February 1941.

On 29 February 1944, Wojtyła was knocked down by a German truck (lorry). He thought he would be badly treated. The German officers sent him to a hospital. He spent two weeks there with head and shoulder injuries. It was at this time that he decided that he must become a priest. When he left hospital, the young Polish men were being sent to Germany for training. He escaped to the house of the Archbishop. He hid there till after the war. On the night of 17 January 1945, the Germans left the city. The priests and teacher and students went back to the seminary. There was a big clean-up to be done. Wojtyła offered to clean out the lavatories.[9]

That month, Wojtyła found a fourteen-year-old Jewish refugee named Edith Zierer. She was trying to reach her parents. She had collapsed from hunger. He gave her food and helped her go to the railway station. She did not hear of him again until the day came when he was elected Pope.


First pope to visit the White House. First modern pope to visit a synagogue.

First pope to visit Cuba.

The most widely traveled pope in history.

Canonized more saints than any other pope.

Created 232 cardinals.

Re-established diplomatic relations with Great Britain after a 450-year break.

In January 1984, re-established diplomatic relations with the United States which had been broken since 1867.

Established diplomatic relations with Israel and with the PLO.

Other Facts

Pope John Paul II died in April 2005 at the age of 84. His official cause of death was septic shock and cardio-circulatory collapse. He had suffered from Parkinson's disease, arthritis and other ailments for several years before his death.

Upon his election in 1978, John Paul II was the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years. His official title was: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Western Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City.

Pope Saint John Paul II:

Ioannes Paulus Secundus
16 October 1978
2 April 2005
Pope John Paul I
Pope Benedict XVI
Karol Józef Wojtyła
18 May 1920 Wadowice, Poland
2 April 2005 (aged 84) Apostolic Palace, Vatican City
Polish with Vatican citizenshi
Totus Tuus (Totally Yours - in Latin)
1 May 2011 St. Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Benedict XVI
27 April 2014 St. Peter's Square, Vatican City by Pope Francis


Karol Jozef Wojtyla is born in Wadowice, Poland, at 7 Koscielna Street. The little boy nicknamed Lolek is the third and last child of Karol, an officer in the Polish Army, and Emilia. His brother Edmund was born in 1906 and a sister, Olga, died in infancy in 1914.
After Karol Jr. graduates from high school, the Wojtylas move from Wadowice to Krakow. Karol Jr. attends Jagiellonian University until World War II begins in September 1939
Wojtyla and his friends start an underground theater, called the Rhapsodic Theater, to present works in Polish in defiance of the Nazis. During the day, Wojtyla works in quarries and chemical factories.
Wojtyla joins an underground seminary organized by Archbishop Sapieha.
Wojtyla is ordained by Cardinal Sapieha to become a priest and celebrates his first Mass.
Wojtyla studies in Rome, where he earns a doctorate in philosophy. After returning to Poland, he also earns a doctorate in Sacred Theology from Jagellonian University in December 1948.
Wojtyla is consecrated as a bishop.
Wojtyla participates in Vatican II in Rome. He sides with the reformers who want to modernize the church. He also contributes to a document that states that the Church no longer considers Jews responsible for Christ's death.
Wojtyla is ordained as Archbishop of Krakow.
In a secret consistory, Wojtyla is elevated to cardinal. Two days later, he is formally installed in a Vatican ceremony.
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla is elected to be the 264th pope, the first non-Italian in 455 years. He is also the youngest pope since 1846. He takes the name John Paul II to honor his three immediate predecessors.
Addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.
Pope John Paul II is shot by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca in Saint Peter's Square. He is wounded in the abdomen, arm and hand. Two others are wounded as well. Vatican Secretary of State Agostino Cardinal Casaroli takes over as temporary head of the Roman Catholic Church.
The pope meets with Ali Agca at Rebibbia Prison.
The United States re-establishes full diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
Time Magazine names Pope John Paul II its Man of the Year.
He addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, commemorating the organization's 50th anniversary.
The Vatican releases a formal apology to Jews for the Church's failure to do more to prevent the Holocaust.
Apologizes for the Church's mistreatment of Jews, non-Catholic Christians, women, the poor and minorities over the last 2,000 years.
With 25 years and 5 months as pope, John Paul II becomes the third longest serving pontiff in history, behind St. Peter's 32 years and Pope Pius IX's 31 years 7 months.
Pope John Paul II asks forgiveness for the Inquisition, "for errors committed in the service of truth through use of methods that had nothing to do with the Gospel."
Hospitalized with a respiratory infection.
For the first time in his papacy, John Paul II does not perform the Ash Wednesday Mass at the Vatican.
Is released from the hospital.
Re-hospitalized at Gemelli Hospital after relapsing with the flu. Successfully undergoes a tracheotomy to relieve respiratory problems.
Released from the hospital.
The Vatican announces that the pope is being fed by a nasal tube.
Given last rites after developing a high-fever and a urinary tract infection.
The Vatican says in a written statement that the pope had suffered cardiocirculatory collapse and septic shock. The Vatican denied reports that the pope was in a coma and described his condition as "lucid, fully conscious."
Pope John Paul II dies at 9:37 p.m. in his private apartment in the Vatican.
His funeral takes place in Saint Peter's Square and he is buried in a crypt under Saint Peter's Basilica.
Pope Benedict XVI waives the wait period for review for beatification and canonization, which is at least five years after death.
Is beatified, or declared "blessed," as a saint by his successor Pope Benedict XVI. A vial of Pope John Paul II's blood is displayed before the crowd.
The Vatican announces that Pope John Paul II will be made a saint.
Is canonized a saint, along with Pope John XXIII


“Faith and Reason are like two wings of the human spirit by which is soars to the truth.”
“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.”
“As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.”
“If He asks much of you, it is because He knows you can give much.”
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and Alleluia is our song.”
“Love between man and woman cannot be built without sacrifices and self-denial.”
“I plead with you! Never, ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.”
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
“Know what you are talking about.”
“It is the duty of every man to uphold the dignity of every woman.”
“He was alone in his wonderment, amoung creatures incapable of wonder --for them it was enough to exist and go their way.”
“Love between man and woman cannot be built without sacrifices and self-denial.”
"Social justice cannot be attained by violence. Violence kills what it intends to create."
"Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family - a domestic church."
"Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes."
"The cemetery of the victims of human cruelty in our century is extended to include yet another vast cemetery, that of the unborn."
“ This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the time to preach it from the rooftops. Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern metropolis. ”
“The ethos of redemption is realied in self-mastery, by means of temperance, that is, continence of desires.”
“Take away from love the fullness of self surrender, the completeness of personal commitment, and what remains will be a total denial and negation of it.”
...all that is carried along by the stream's silvery cascade, rhythmically falling from the mountain, carried by its own current-- carried where?”