|Karol Józef Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920.|
Karol Józef Wojtyla, known as John Paul II
since his October 1978 election to the papacy, was born
in Wadowice, a small city 50 kilometres from Cracow, on
May 18, 1920. He was the second of two sons
born to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. His mother died
in 1929. His eldest brother Edmund, a doctor, died in
1932 and his father, a non-commissioned army officer died in
He made his First Holy Communion at age 9
and was confirmed at 18. Upon graduation from Marcin Wadowita
high school in Wadowice, he enrolled in Cracow´s Jagiellonian University
in 1938 and in a school for drama.
The Nazi occupation
forces closed the university in 1939 and young Karol had
to work in a quarry (1940-1944) and then in the
Solvay chemical factory to earn his living and to avoid
being deported to Germany.
In 1942, aware of his call to
the priesthood, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of
Cracow, run by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, archbishop of Cracow.
At the same time, Karol Wojtyla was one of the
pioneers of the "Rhapsodic Theatre," also clandestine.
After the Second World
War, he continued his studies in the major seminary of
Cracow, once it had re-opened, and in the faculty of
theology of the Jagiellonian University, until his priestly ordination in
Cracow on November 1, 1946.
|Karol with his parents Karol Wojty³a and Emilia Kaczorowska.|
Soon after, Cardinal Sapieha sent him
to Rome where he worked under the guidance of the
French Dominican, Garrigou-Lagrange. He finished his doctorate in theology in
1948 with a thesis on the topic of faith in
the works of St. John of the Cross. At that
time, during his vacations, he exercised his pastoral ministry among
the Polish immigrants of France, Belgium and Holland.
In 1948 he
returned to Poland and was vicar of various parishes in
Cracow as well as chaplain for the university students until
1951, when he took up again his studies on philosophy
and theology. In 1953 he defended a thesis on "evaluation
of the possibility of founding a Catholic ethic on the
ethical system of Max Scheler" at Lublin Catholic University. Later
he became professor of moral theology and social ethics in
the major seminary of Cracow and in the Faculty of
Theology of Lublin.
On July 4, 1958, he was appointed Auxiliary
Bishop of Cracow by Pope Pius XII, and was consecrated
September 28, 1958, in Wawel Cathedral, Cracow, by Archbishop Baziak.
January 13, 1964, he was nominated Archbishop of Cracow by
Pope Paul VI, who made him a cardinal June 26,
|Karol was ordained to the priesthood on November 1, 1946.|
Besides taking part in Vatican Council II with an important
contribution to the elaboration of the Constitution Gaudium et spes,
Cardinal Wojty³a participated in all the assemblies of the Synod
Since the start of his Pontificate on October 16,
1978, Pope John Paul II has completed 95 pastoral visits
outside of Italy and 142 within Italy . As Bishop
of Rome he has visited 301 of the 334 parishes
His principal documents include 14 encyclicals , 13 apostolic exhortations
, 11 apostolic constitutions and 42 apostolic letters. The Pope
has also published three books : "Crossing the Threshold of
Hope" (October 1994); "Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary
of My Priestly Ordination" (November 1996) and "Roman Tryptych -
Meditations", a book of poems (March 2003)..
John Paul II has
presided at 138 beatification ceremonies ( 1,310 Blesseds proclaimed )
and 48 canonization ceremonies ( 469 Saints ) during his
pontificate. He has held 8 consistories in which he created
201 cardinals. He has also convened six plenary meetings of
the College of Cardinals.
From 1978 to today the Holy Father
has 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).
|Happy Anniversary Holy Father!|
Pope has encountered so many individuals like John Paul II:
to date, more than 16,700,000 pilgrims have participated in the
General Audiences held on Wednesdays (more than 1,000). 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 690 audiences
and meetings held with Heads of State, and even the
226 audiences and meetings with Prime Ministers.