News

The life of John Paul II

Catholic Communications, Sydney Archdiocese,
17 Jan 2011

When he was young, he had to overcome the death of his entire family, he worked in a factory while he studied for the priesthood in secrecy. These actions helped shape the personality of John Paul II, one of the most important people of the twentieth century and the history of the Catholic Church. He had the makings of an actor, but the arrival of war and Nazi occupation changed his plans.

He was a priest under a communist dictatorship in Poland, where Nazi terror had been replaced by the forced labor camps in Siberia and a persecuted Church throughout Eastern Europe.

His life changed in the fateful year of 1978, known as the year of three popes. After the death of John Paul I, only 33 days after his election, Cardinal Wojtyla once again traveled to Rome only to find himself staying there. 

They called him the athlete of God. He often Skied, rowed and mountain climbed, surprising the world by his strength and energy.

His time spent as pope was the third longest in history, his pontificate lasted 26 years. During that time he became the leading moral authority for Catholics as well as non-Catholics. Nobody in the history of mankind has visited and been seen by more people. He met with nearly every world leader from his time, visited almost every country in the world during his 104 trips abroad, and circled the world 29 times, the equivalent of three times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

"The miners would like you to wear this helmet, so you can also be a miner of Catati. We believe in God, Your Holiness!"

He was the Pope of Human Rights, in the fight against violence.

After the September 11 attacks on the Twin Towers, John Paul II called for avoidance of the idea it was a war between civilizations.

John Paul II
"Father of everyone, listen to the unanimous cries of your children. No more war, the adventure with no return. No more war, the spiral of violence and mourning."

The late John Paul II became ill with a flu and sore throat. During this time the Gemelli hospital in Rome became the center of Christianity. Pilgrims from all over the world accompanied him below his window.

The Pope's sickness captured media attention worldwide. More than one thousand radio and television stations followed his minute by minute recovery.

With much effort and sadness, this was the last time the pope's blessed the faithful in attendance.

His window remained lit, but little by little the light went out. The Vatican spokesman was visibly moved to tears, saying John Paul II had lost consciousness.

Romans and visitors filled Saint Peter's Square to keep vigil, and counting the minutes, accompanied the Pope on his final voyage.

On April 2, at 9:37 P.M. Roman time, the solemn bells of St. Andrew announced to the world that Karol Wojtyla's heart had stopped beating ....

The world paused for a moment to say goodbye to John Paul II. Three million people came to Rome to pay their last respects to a person who had left his mark on their souls. Leaders across the world stopped talking about political disputes and prayed together for his soul.

The pilgrims told the Church there was no need for a beatification process, because to them the Pope was already a saint.