Saint John Paul 11 – medal
3cm in length x 1.7 in width
Imported from Italy
Patron saint of the World Youth Day & Young Catholic Families
Who Was Pope John Paul II?
John Paul II was ordained in 1946, became the bishop of Ombi in 1958,
and became the archbishop of Krakow in 1964. He was made a cardinal by
Pope Paul VI in 1967, and in 1978 became the first non-Italian pope in
more than 400 years. He was a vocal advocate for human rights and used
his influence to effect political change. He died in Italy in 2005. It
was announced in July 2013 that he would be declared a saint in April of
the following year.
Born Karol Józef
Wojtyla on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland, Pope John Paul II’s early
life was marked by great loss. His mother died when he was nine years
old, and his older brother Edmund died when he was 12.
up, John Paul was athletic and enjoyed skiing and swimming. He went to
Krakow’s Jagiellonian University in 1938 where he showed an interest in
theater and poetry. The school was closed the next year by Nazi troops
during the German occupation of Poland. Wanting to become a priest, John
Paul began studying at a secret seminary run by the archbishop of
Krakow. After World War II ended, he finished his religious studies at a
Krakow seminary and was ordained in 1946.
Rise Within the Church
Paul spent two years in Rome where he finished his doctorate in
theology. He returned to his native Poland in 1948 and served in several
parishes in and around Krakow. John Paul became the bishop of Ombi in
1958 and then the archbishop of Krakow six years later. Considered one
of the Catholic Church’s leading thinkers, he participated in the Second
Vatican Council—sometimes called Vatican II. The council began
reviewing church doctrine in 1962, holding several sessions over the
course of the next few years. As a member of the council, John Paul
helped the church to examine its position in the world. Well regarded
for his contributions to the church, John Paul was made a cardinal in
1967 by Pope Paul VI.
1978, John Paul made history by becoming the first non-Italian pope in
more than four hundred years. As the leader of the Catholic Church, he
traveled the world, visiting more than 100 countries to spread his
message of faith and peace. But he was close to home when he faced the
greatest threat to his life. In 1981, an assassin shot John Paul twice
in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City. Fortunately, he was able to
recover from his injuries and later forgave his attacker.
A vocal advocate for human rights, John Paul often
spoke out about suffering in the world. He held strong positions on many
topics, including his opposition to capital punishment. A charismatic
figure, John Paul used his influence to bring about political change and
is credited with the fall of communism in his native Poland. He was not
without critics, however. Some have stated that he could be harsh with
those who disagreed with him and that he would not compromise his
hard-line stance on certain issues, such as contraception
In his later years, John Paul’s health appeared to be failing. At
public appearances, he moved slowly and seemed unsteady on his feet. He
also visibly trembled at times. One of his doctors also disclosed that
John Paul had Parkinson’s disease, a brain disorder often characterized
by shaking, in 2001. But there was never any official announcement about
his illness from the Vatican.
Pope John Paul II died on April 2,
2005, at the age of 84, at his Vatican City residence. More than 3
million people waited in line to say good-bye to their beloved religious
leader at St. Peter’s Basilica before his funeral on April 8.
July 5, 2013, waving the usual five-year waiting period, the Vatican
announced that the Roman Catholic Church would declare Pope John Paul II
a saint and that the canonization ceremony would likely take place
within the next 16 months. The Vatican also stated that Pope John XXIII,
who headed the Catholic Church from 1958 until his death in 1963 and
convened the Vatican II council, would also be declared a saint.
September 30, 2013, Pope Francis announced that the canonizations of
Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII would occur on April 27, 2014. The
announcement of Pope John Paul II’s canonization came after the Vatican
revealed that two miracles were attributed to the late pope. After a
dying French nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre Normand, prayed to Pope John
Paul II for during her battle with Parkinson’s disease—the same illness
that killed the pope—she was cured. The second miracle involved a
50-year-old woman, who claimed that she was cured of a brain aneurysm
after a photograph of Pope John Paul II spoke to her.
The official sainthood ceremony, held on April 27, 2014, brought together
four popes. Pope Francis led the event to elevate Pope John Paul II and
Pope John XXIII to sainthood, which was also attended by Francis’s
predecessor Emeritus Pope Benedict.