Karol Jozef Wojtyla was born in Wadowice, Poland on May 18, 1920. His mother died when he was only nine years old, leaving only his father and his big brother, Edmund, who also died prematurely. In 1938, Karol enrolled at the Jagellon University in Krakow and in a theatre course. A year later, the university was closed by the Nazis, and young Karol then had to work on the site of a chemical factory. The young man felt the call of the Lord and his vocation to the priesthood. In 1942, he attended training courses at a clandestine seminary in Krakow. At the same time, he became one of the promoters of the Rapsodique theatre, which was also clandestine.
After the Second World War, he continued his studies at the Major Seminary of Krakow and at the Faculty of Theology of the Jagellon University. He was ordained a priest November 1st, 1946, in Krakow. He was then sent to Rome, where he carried out his pastoral ministry to the Polish emigrants. He defended his thesis in 1948, then returned to Poland to be curate in various parishes of Krakow and student chaplain until 1951. He then resumed his philosophical and theological studies and became a professor at the Lublin Faculty of Theology. In 1958, he was appointed bishop of Ombi by Pius XII, then archbishop of Krakow by Paul VI in 1964, and finally cardinal in 1967. He participated in the Second Vatican Council, contributing to the writing of the Constitution of Gaudium et Spes, then took part in all the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops.
During the second conclave of October 16th, 1978, he was elected pope and took the name of John Paul II. He chose "Totus Tuus" as his motto: “I am all yours, Mary”. He is the 263rd successor to Saint Peter. On October 22nd, he solemnly began his ministry and pronounced these strong words: “Do not be afraid, on the contrary, open the doors wide to Christ”. His pontificate of almost 27 years is one of the longest in the history of the Church.
On May 13, 1981, the anniversary of Our Lady's first appearance at Fatima, John Paul II was the victim of an attack, as a young Turkish man fired on him and hit him with three bullets. No vital organ was hit, and John Paul II attributes his survival to the intervention of the Virgin of Fatima, specifying that this attack is the one mentioned in the message of Fatima. As early as 1990, the pope was afflicted with Parkinson's disease, which gradually weakened him more and more. John Paul II died on 2 April 2005 in the Vatican as the feast of Divine Mercy was liturgically opened.
The funeral of John Paul II took place on April 8th, 2005, and since his death more than three million faithful had come to Rome for the event, waiting up to 24 hours to enter the Basilica of Saint Peter.
On April 28th, 2005, the new Pope Benedict XVI granted the cancellation of the waiting period of 5 years after death for the opening of the cause of beatification-canonization of John Paul II. The canonical procedure was opened on 28 June 2005.
John Paul II was beatified on May 1st, 2011, after the healing of a nun with Parkinson's disease. Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand testifies: "I was certain that I was healed when I got up, for I rose with a leap, that in my body there was a lightness, and that I no longer trembled." Together with the mother superior and the other sisters, they had formed a prayer chain invoking the deceased Pope.
John Paul II was canonized on April 27th, 2015, at the same time as Pope John XXIII, and he is celebrated on October 22nd. It was the miraculous healing of a Costa Rican woman, which took place on the evening of his beatification, that paved the way for canonization. This mother, Floribeth Mora Diaz, had just been diagnosed with a brain aneurysm and was not going to live for long. Following the beatification on television, she prayed intensely to John Paul II. The next day she heard him internally say to her, "Get up, don't be afraid," she was healed.
Among the major documents published by John Paul II are 14 encyclicals, 15 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions and 45 apostolic letters. Privately, as a Doctor, he had also published five books: "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" in 1994, "Gift and Mystery: on the 50th Anniversary of my Priestly Ordination" in 1996, "Roman Triptych Meditations "in 2003,"Rise, Let us Be On Our Way! " in 2004 and "Memory and Identity" in 2005.
The publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in 1992 is the major act of the Pontifical Magisterium of John Paul II, by which he wanted to give "a sure standard for the teaching of the faith." Moreover, John Paul II had published many teachings, in particular on the theology of the body, evoking the subject of sexuality without taboos. He wanted to take a fresh look at the issue and change the preconceptions about the Church in matters of sexuality.
John Paul II created World Youth Day, which takes place every 2–3 years and brings together thousands of young Catholics from all over the world. The first WYD took place in Rome in 1986. Since then, 14 cities have hosted this group of young people from all over the world.
For families, which were a priority for John Paul II, he created the World Meetings of Families in 1994. In 1981, he founded the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Rome with the aim of deepening study in the field of marriage, the family, as well as in bioethics.
John Paul II was a man of prayer. In particular, he had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary and recited the rosary daily. He encouraged the prayer of the rosary, in particular by instituting the mysteries of light. Here are various prayers to enter into the spirituality of John Paul II and receive his powerful intercession in our lives.
“O Holy Trinity,
We thank You for having given to Your Church of Pope John Paul II and magnified in him the tenderness of Your Fatherhood, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of Love.
Through his unconditional abandonment to Your infinite Mercy and the maternal intercession of Mary, he gave us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd and showed us holiness, a sublime dimension of ordinary Christian life, a unique way to reach eternal communion with You.
Through His intercession grant us, according to Your Will, the grace that we implore (...), through Jesus Christ our Lord and our God who reigns with You, Father, and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever and ever. Amen!”
May God bless us through the intercession of Saint John Paul II!”