Pope St. John Paul II was born in Poland in 1920 as Karol Wojtyla. Being a student during WWII, Wojtyla did most of his seminary studies in secret and would be ordained a priest in 1946. He would then be ordained a Bishop in 1958 and would attend the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s. In 1968, he became the Archbishop of Krakow and was appointed a Cardinal three years later. 

In 1978, Karol Wojtyla was elected as pope and he took on the name John Paul II in honor of his predecessor who had died after just a month as pope. John Paul II’s papacy might be the most dynamic papacy since the early church. He fought communism, modernism, and moral relativism all while participating in celebratory events such as the Jubilee year in 2000 and World Youth Days. John Paul II traveled to more countries than any other previous popes. 

Pope John II may be most remembered for the attempted assassination of his life, and his personal forgiveness of his shooter. Towards the end of his papacy, John Paul II contracted Parkenson’s disease and would pass away in 2005. In his 27 years as Pope, John Paul II wrote 14 encyclicals and five books, canonized 482 saints and beatified 1,338 people. He was canonized within a decade after his death and has been given the title Pope St. John Paul the Great.