Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II)
18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005
John Paul II, formally named Karol Jozef Wojtyla, suffered great losses early on in his life as his mother and older brother died before he reached the age of 15. Attending Jagiellonian University, John Paul II studied poetry and theater for a short time until the Nazis took over the country and shut down the school. John Paul then secretly began to study at a seminary in Krakow until 1946 when he was made a member of the clergy.
After being named the bishop of Ombi as well as the archbishop of Krakow, John Paul was considered a leader in the Catholic Church and took part in the Second Vatican Council. Belonging to the group, John Paul aided in the recognition of the Church throughout the world. By 1967, he was a high-ranking priest, or cardinal. For the first time in over four hundred years, John Paul, a non-Italian pope, was leading the Catholic Church in 1978.
John Paul spread his belief in religion and advocacy in human rights as he traveled around the world and spoke to many groups of people. He voiced his stance in disapproving capital punishment, and is said to have helped in Poland’s halt in communism. Having much respect for the younger populations, John Paul II created World Youth Days, where populations were brought together throughout the globe.
On April 2, 2005, John Paul II died, as millions of people stood in front of St. Peter’s Basilica to pay their respect. Although one must wait five years to be named a saint, Church authorities carried out the process immediately for John Paul II to be recognized.
Erin Sehnert & Mary-france Oudin