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Saint Pope John Paul II

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From Cardinal to Chair of Peter to Grain of Wheat

Deacon Keith Fournier

The Bishop Becomes a Prince of the Church

Karol Cardinal Wojtyla's was selected as a Cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1967. In March of 1976, he was invited to give a Lenten retreat to the aging Pope. The talks became a book of deep spiritual insights and reflections entitled "Sign of Contradiction." He was chosen by the late Pope to be his representative to the International Eucharistic Congress held in the United States in July of 1976, the Nation's bicentennial. It would be the beginning of a deep and enduring friendship with the American people.

Champion of the Dignity of Life and Love

Cardinal Wojtyla had a deep conviction of the importance of Pope Paul VI's Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae, On Human Life, published in 1968. It was about more than the regulation of birth and issues of contraception; it was about the dignity of the human person and human love in the Divine Plan. Sadly, the letter became a rallying point for some who chose to dissent. However, Karol Cardinal Wojtyla's work in theological anthropology, his development of a theology of marriage and family, and his Wednesday Catechetical Instructions (later compiled as "Human Love in the Divine Plan" and popularly called the "Theology of the Body") as Pope, clearly built upon this important Encyclical letter of Paul VI and have ensured its lasting effects.

From Cardinal to the Chair of Peter

The death of Pope Paul VI on August 6, 1978, the Feast of the Transfiguration, brought Cardinal Wojtyla to Rome where he participated in the Conclave which elected Cardinal Albino Luciani of Venice as Pope. The gentle smiling Pope took the name John Paul I to represent his commitment to continuity with the pontificates of both of his predecessors and the Council which they presided over. Sadly, 33 days later Pope John Paul I died in office. 1978 then became the year of three Popes. Karol Cardinal Wojtyla soon heard the Lord call him to an assignment he probably never expected when he studied for the priesthood in an underground seminary in Poland.

On October 16, 1978, the Cardinals gathered under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and chose Karol Cardinal Wojtyla as the 263rd successor to the Apostle Peter. He took the name John Paul II as his first teaching act, sending the signal of continuity. He stepped out on to the balcony in St. Peters Square and proclaimed: "Be Not Afraid! Open up, no; swing wide the gates to Christ. Open up to his saving power the confines of the State, open up economic and political systems, the vast empires of culture, civilization and development... Be not afraid!"

Pope John Paul II Begins his Service

Affirmed by many as one of the chief architects of the Second Vatican Council and its extraordinary document on the relationship of the Church to the "modern" world" (entitled "Joy and Hope" or "Gaudium et Spes" in Latin), this strong, passionate, charismatic priest and Bishop now occupied the chair of Peter. At a critical time in the history of both the Church and the world, he stepped forward like a lion, with a prophetic roar. He strode onto that platform with strength and vitality.

This mountain climbing Polish Pope was so filled with the love of God it was contagious. A talented and gifted "man of letters", a playwright, a philosopher, an intellectual giant, a poet, but more importantly, a genuine human being with a heart that embraced the whole world, like the Heart of the One whom he represents on earth. He truly has been the "Vicar of Christ", representing the Lord, the King of Kings, for so many millions throughout the world.

Pope of Freedom and Fidelity

Like a lion in Peter's chair, he consistently and tirelessly lived what he boldly proclaimed with great courage. Unafraid, he traversed the globe, proclaiming freedom to the captives and truth to the victims of failed false ideologies that had ravaged the people of the twentieth century, the bloodiest in all of human history. He has not stopped passionately re-presenting the classical, unchanging, Christian message with a prophetic urgency, profound clarity and contemporary relevance.

Prolific and Courageous

Communism, atheism, secularism, false humanisms... have now all been exposed in both their empty promises and the horrors that they unleashed in the wake of their false utopian claims. This Pope proclaimed that the "Redeemer of Man" (the title of his first encyclical letter), Jesus Christ, is the path to authentic personal, social and universal freedom! He authored more encyclical letters, apostolic exhortations, constitutions and letters than any Pope in the two thousand year history of the Christian Church. In these writings and so many allocutions, this marvelous man has given us a treasury to unpack for centuries.

Saint John Paul's Themes

He meticulously and brilliantly developed themes during his service to the Church and the world. Among them; "The Culture of Life", "The Civilization of Love", "The New Evangelization", "The New Springtime of world missions ", "The Universal Call to holiness"; "Christian Marriage and family life as a domestic church"; "A Spirituality of Communion"; "The Theology of the Body"; "The Common Good"; "The Unity of Life"; "The New Humanism"; "The New feminism and the Feminine Genius"; "The Two Lungs of East and West"; " Catholic Action", and a "New Advent" for all of humanity in Jesus Christ.

Saint John Paul's Magisterium

His writings were vast, 14 Encyclicals, 15 Apostolic Exhortations, 11 Apostolic Constitutions, 45 Apostolic Letters and five books, "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" (October 1994), "Gift and Mystery, on the fiftieth anniversary of my ordination as priest" (November 1996), "Roman Triptych" poetic meditations (March 2003), "Arise, Let us Be Going" (May 2004) and "Memory and Identity" (February 2005). He promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He reformed the Eastern and Western Codes of Canon Law. He was an extraordinary Pope on every front.

His magisterium set a framework for what is becoming under his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, a new missionary age. His teaching helped to bring about an authentic renewal of the Church. It also reasserted the mission of the Church to engage and transform human culture, including the arts, politics, the academy, and economic and political realm - because no area of human experience is "off-limits" to the influence of the Gospel and the Church. The Church is, in the words of the Fathers of the second Vatican Council, an "expert in humanity".

Saint John Paul the Evangelist

Saint Pope John Paul II called all men and women to the Redeemer, Jesus Christ. He reminded us that only in Jesus Christ can we discover the purpose and fulfillment of human life. He proclaimed that human existence itself is an invitation to communion with God and with one another. He told an age bent of "self fulfillment" that true human fulfillment only comes from giving ourselves in love to God and to one another. He called us to live a unity of life, wherein the implications of the Christian faith inform the entirety of life with no contradiction or separation.

An Apostle of Life

He confronted, exposed and opposed the "culture of death", wherein the human person is treated as an instrument to be used rather than an unrepeatable gift to be received. He proposed a different way, building a new "culture of life" where every human person, at every age and stage, is recognized as having an inviolable dignity and right to life, freedom and love.

A Promoter of Peace

He charted a path to peace and solidarity, proclaiming to the nations that we are all our brothers' keeper and that we owe an obligation in solidarity to one another and, most especially, to the poor in all of their manifestations. He wrote of authentic freedom as a freedom "for" and not just a freedom "from", a freedom that must be bounded by truth and lived in accordance with the moral understanding of our obligation to do what is right.

A Champion of Freedom

He exposed what he called in his Encyclical "The Gospel of Life" the "counterfeit notion of freedom" as a raw power over others. He countered the false notion of the autonomy of the individual as the measure of a "freedom" to do whatever one wants by insisting that the path to human flourishing is communion. He proclaimed a new and true humanism, reaffirming that we were created in the Image of God, made for communion. He insisted that through applying the treasury of the social teaching of the Catholic Church - in our relationships with one another, in our families, in our societies, our nations and in the global community - authentic justice and freedom can actually be achieved.

Entrusted for twenty six years with the most important role of service in the Church and the world, Saint Pope John Paul II was a prophetic Pope in both word and deed. From his first encyclical letter entitled "The Redeemer of Man" to his last, the "Church of the Eucharist", he proclaimed that the truth is, as he wrote in his profound Encyclical Letter on the Moral Life, a "splendor".

A Healer of Divisions

He called for reconciliation among separated Christians in "May They Be One" and a new model of full communion with the Church which is beginning to be implemented under Pope Benedict XVI with the creation of Anglican Ordinariates as an example. With deep love for the "Light of the East" he called Eastern and Western Christianity to rediscover their dependence upon one another in order that the entire Body of Christ might once again breathe with "two lungs" and present the whole Jesus Christ to a world that needs to be liberated. Again, his successor continues the effort with extraordinary promise.

A Man of Living Faith

The oft-repeated paragraph 22 from "Joy and Hope", one of Saint Pope John Paul's favorite, is a key to understanding his deep faith: "In reality, it is only in the mystery of the word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear. For Adam, was a type of him who was to come, Christ the lord, Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of His love, fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling."

The Lion becomes a Lamb

He began his pontificate Lion roaring and ended it like a lamb. The once vibrant, strong Pope became frail, sick and physically weak. The giant of a man, who once climbed mountains, mounted the cross of human suffering and, in his frail frame, exercised the authority of his office from a unique chair, still the Chair of Peter, a wheel chair. How fitting for the champion of the weak, the disabled, the elderly, those who have no voice, was finally joined physically to them in order to show the world the truth of the beauty and dignity of every human life.

The Pope who revealed the love of God through years of emptying himself out for the Lord and His people showed us the beauty of a suffering endured in love and offered for others in his last days among us. With decreasing verbal eloquence because his lips stammered from the ravages of Parkinson's disease, he achieved something beyond words; he demonstrated the truth of the Christian message of love by revealing the God who came to suffer for us all in his beautiful silence.

A Seed of a New Springtime

Then he went home to the Father having become a seed of the "New Springtime" he proclaimed. The Lord proclaimed that "unless a grain of wheat fall to the ground..." and when this Pope's prophetic mission on earth was over he joined the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and the Lamb who was slain for our sins. On April 2, at 9.37 p.m., the Octave of Easter and the Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday, he died, falling to the ground as a grain of wheat in imitation of the Lord whom He loved and served so well.

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Life of Saint Pope John Paul II

1920
1930
1940
1950
1960
1970
1980
1990
2000
1920's Early Years
  • Born in Wadowice (Kraków), Poland.
    Born in Wadowice (Kraków), Poland.
    Born in Wadowice (Kraków), Poland.
    May 18, 1920
  • Baptized by the military chaplain P. Franciszek Zak.
    Baptized into Christ and His Church by a Chaplain in the Polish Army, Fr. Franciszek Zak.
    Baptized by the military chaplain P. Franciszek Zak.
    June 20, 1920
  • Attended the elementary school for boys
    Attended the elementary school for boys, and then the prep years of secondary school "Marcin Wadowita" in which during all his classes he achieved the top grades.
    Attended the elementary school for boys
    September 15, 1926
  • His mother dies.
    Death of his mother due to heart and kidney problems.
    His mother dies.
    April 13, 1929
  • First Holy Communion
    First Holy Communion
    First Holy Communion
    October 1, 1929
1930's Early Years
  • Admitted to the State Secondary School for boys, "Marcin Wadowita".
    Admitted to the State Secondary School for boys, "Marcin Wadowita".
    Admitted to the State Secondary School for boys, "Marcin Wadowita".
    June 1, 1930
  • His brother Edmund dies.
    Loss of his childhood occurs with the death of his brother to scarlet fever.
    His brother Edmund dies.
    December 5, 1932
  • Participates in military training exercises at Hermanice.
    Participates in military training exercises at Hermanice.
    Participates in military training exercises at Hermanice.
    September 1, 1935
  • Admitted into the Society of Mary.
    Admitted into the Society of Mary.
    Admitted into the Society of Mary.
    December 14, 1935
  • Receives the Sacrament of Confirmation.
    Receives the Sacrament of Confirmation.
    Receives the Sacrament of Confirmation.
    May 1, 1938
  • Enrolls in the Faculty of Philosophy at Jagellonian University, Kraków.
    Enrolls in the Faculty of Philosophy (course of Polish Philosophy) at Jagellonian University, Kraków.
    Enrolls in the Faculty of Philosophy at Jagellonian University, Kraków.
    June 22, 1938
  • He and his father move to Kraków
    Young Karol and his father move to Kraków (Via Tyniecka 10).
    He and his father move to Kraków
    August 1, 1938
  • University military training
    University military training camp at Ozomla, near Sadowa Wiszna for Polish and Ukraine students.
    University military training
    July 1, 1939
  • Second World War begins.
    Second World War begins.
    Second World War begins.
    September 1, 1939
  • Registers for the second year university courses in Literature and Philosophy.
    Registers for the second year university courses in Literature and Philosophy.
    Registers for the second year university courses in Literature and Philosophy.
    November 2, 1939
1940's Priesthood
  • His father dies.
    His father dies.
    His father dies.
    February 18, 1941
  • Escaped Gestapo round by hiding in his uncle's basement.
    Escaped Gestapo round by hiding in his uncle's basement.
    Escaped Gestapo round by hiding in his uncle's basement.
    August 6, 1944
  • The Russian Armed Forces free Kraków from Nazi occupation.
    The Russian Armed Forces free Kraków from Nazi occupation.
    The Russian Armed Forces free Kraków from Nazi occupation.
    January 18, 1945
  • Ordained a priest.
    Ordained a priest. As on the preceding occasions, he received Holy Orders from the hands of Archbishop Metropolitan Adam Sapieha in his private chapel.
    Ordained a priest.
    November 1, 1946
  • Celebrates his first Mass in the crypt of St. Leonard at Wavel.
    Celebrates his first Mass in the crypt of St. Leonard at Wavel.
    Celebrates his first Mass in the crypt of St. Leonard at Wavel.
    November 2, 1946
  • Leaves Poland to begin studies in Rome.
    Leaves Poland to begin studies in Rome.
    Leaves Poland to begin studies in Rome.
    November 15, 1946
  • Earns a master's degree in theology at the Jagellonian University in Kraków
    Earns a master's degree in theology at the Jagellonian University in Kraków (1942-1946). Earns a doctorate in sacred theology in the Faculty of Theology at the Jagellonian University with highest marks.
    Earns a master's degree in theology at the Jagellonian University in Kraków
    December 16, 1948
  • Recalled to Kraków to be assistant pastor at St. Florian's.
    Recalled to Kraków to be assistant pastor at St. Florian's.
    Recalled to Kraków to be assistant pastor at St. Florian's.
    August 5, 1949
1950's Priesthood
  • Archbishop Baziak puts him on leave
    Archbishop Baziak puts him on leave (until 1953) to complete his qualifying exams for a university position. Up until now he served as a chaplain to the university students (in St. Florian's) and for health workers.
    Archbishop Baziak puts him on leave
    September 1, 1951
  • Gives course in Catholic social ethics for Jagellonian University students
    Gives a course in Catholic social ethics for the students of fourth year theology at the Jagellonian University.
    Gives course in Catholic social ethics for Jagellonian University students
    October 1, 1953
  • Completes qualifying exams with thesis on the "ethical system of Max Scheler".
    Completes his qualifying exams by presenting his thesis on the "ethical system of Max Scheler".
    Completes qualifying exams with thesis on the "ethical system of Max Scheler".
    December 1, 1953
  • Faculty of Theology at the Jagellonian University abolished,
    Faculty of Theology at the Jagellonian University abolished, this faculty is then organized at the Seminary of Kraków where he continues his studies. Catholic University of Lublin offers him a non-tenured professorship which he accepts.
    Faculty of Theology at the Jagellonian University abolished,
    January 1, 1954
  • Appointed to the Chair of Ethics at the Catholic University of Lublin.
    Appointed to the Chair of Ethics at the Catholic University of Lublin.
    Appointed to the Chair of Ethics at the Catholic University of Lublin.
    December 1, 1956
  • The Central Qualifying Committee approves his appointment as free docent.
    The Central Qualifying Committee approves his appointment as free docent.
    The Central Qualifying Committee approves his appointment as free docent.
    November 15, 1957
  • Appointed Auxiliary Bishop to Archbishop Baziak of Kraków.
    Appointed Auxiliary Bishop to Archbishop Mons. Eugeniusz Baziak of Kraków.
    Appointed Auxiliary Bishop to Archbishop Baziak of Kraków.
    July 4, 1958
  • Ordained Bishop in the Cathedral of Wavel.
    Ordained Bishop in the Cathedral of Wavel.
    Ordained Bishop in the Cathedral of Wavel.
    September 28, 1958
1960's Priesthood
  • After the death of Archbishop Baziak, named Vicar Capitular.
    After the death of Archbishop Baziak, named Vicar Capitular.
    After the death of Archbishop Baziak, named Vicar Capitular.
    July 16, 1962
  • Participates in the II Session of the Second Vatican Council.
    Participates in the II Session of the Second Vatican Council.
    Participates in the II Session of the Second Vatican Council.
    October 6, 1963
  • Designated Metropolitan Bishop of Kraków.
    Designated Metropolitan Bishop of Kraków.
    Designated Metropolitan Bishop of Kraków.
    December 30, 1963
  • Archbishop Wojtyla is made President of Apostolate of the Laity
    Episcopal Commission for the Apostolate of the Laity is established; Archbishop Wojtyla is made President.
    Archbishop Wojtyla is made President of Apostolate of the Laity
    December 29, 1966
  • Karol Wojtyla named Cardinal elect
    Paul VI announces the next Consistory. Among the names of the new Cardinals elect is that of Karol Wojtyla.
    Karol Wojtyla named Cardinal elect
    May 29, 1967
  • Consecrated Cardinal in the Sistine Chapel, by Pope Paul VI
    Consecrated Cardinal in the Sistine Chapel, by Pope Paul VI - titular S. Cesareo in Palatio.
    Consecrated Cardinal in the Sistine Chapel, by Pope Paul VI
    June 26, 1967
  • Takes possession of the titular Church, S. Cesareo in Palatio, Rome.
    Takes possession of the titular Church, S. Cesareo in Palatio, Rome.
    Takes possession of the titular Church, S. Cesareo in Palatio, Rome.
    February 18, 1968
  • Vice-President of the Episcopal Conference
    Approval of the statutes of the Episcopal Conference; Cardinal Wojtyla is Vice-President of the Conference.
    Vice-President of the Episcopal Conference
    March 15, 1969
  • The Polish Theological Society publishes "The Acting Person"
    The Polish Theological Society (PTT) of Krakow publishes "The Acting Person" (Osoba i cyzn).
    The Polish Theological Society publishes "The Acting Person"
    December 1, 1969
1970's Priesthood / Pope
  • Is elected to the Council of the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.
    Is elected to the Council of the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.
    Is elected to the Council of the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.
    October 5, 1971
  • Card. Wojtyla presides over the Polish delegation
    Card. Wojtyla presides over the Polish delegation at the international conference in Rome for the preparations of the new Apostolic Constitution for Ecclesiastical Studies.
    Card. Wojtyla presides over the Polish delegation
    November 22, 1976
  • Receives a doctorate "honoris causa" from Johannes Guttenberg University
    Receives a doctorate "honoris causa" from Johannes Guttenberg University, Mainz.
    Receives a doctorate "honoris causa" from Johannes Guttenberg University
    June 23, 1977
  • Present at the funeral of Paul VI.
    Present at the funeral of Paul VI.
    Present at the funeral of Paul VI.
    August 11, 1978
  • John Paul I is elected Pope
    John Paul I (Albino Luciani) is elected Pope.
    John Paul I is elected Pope
    August 26, 1978
  • Funeral of Pope John Paul I
    Leaves for the funeral of Pope John Paul I.
    Funeral of Pope John Paul I
    October 3, 1978
  • Cardinal Karol Wojtyla is elected 264th Pope at approximately 5:15 p.m
    Cardinal Karol Wojtyla is elected 264th Pope at approximately 5:15 p.m. He is the 263rd Successor of Peter.
    Cardinal Karol Wojtyla is elected 264th Pope at approximately 5:15 p.m
    October 16, 1978
  • Takes first trip abroad
    Takes first trip abroad, to Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Bahamas.
    Takes first trip abroad
    January 25, 1979
  • Pope says Mass at the site of the Birkenau concentration camp, Auschwitz
    The pope says Mass at the site of the Birkenau concentration camp, the largest of 36 camps in a complex known collectively as Auschwitz.
    Pope says Mass at the site of the Birkenau concentration camp, Auschwitz
    June 7, 1979
  • John Paul II visits the United States for the first time as pope.
    John Paul II visits the United States for the first time as pope and addresses the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
    John Paul II visits the United States for the first time as pope.
    September 29, 1979
1980's Pope
  • Pope is shot in the abdomen by a young Turk named Mehmet Ali Agca.
    Pope John Paul II is shot in the abdomen and hand in St. Peter's Square and seriously wounded. Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turk, is arrested. The pope spends 22 days in a hospital.
    Pope is shot in the abdomen by a young Turk named Mehmet Ali Agca.
    May 13, 1981
  • Spanish priest lunges at the pope with a bayonet in Fatima, Portugal
    A Spanish priest lunges at the pope with a bayonet during the first day of a papal trip to Fatima, Portugal. John Paul is unhurt.
    Spanish priest lunges at the pope with a bayonet in Fatima, Portugal
    May 12, 1982
  • Calls for the heads of government to end to the arms race
    Calls for the heads of government of the United States and the Soviet Union to negotiate an end to the arms race.
    Calls for the heads of government to end to the arms race
    September 29, 1983
  • Meets with and forgives his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca
    The pope meets with and forgives his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca, in prison in Rome.
    Meets with and forgives his would-be assassin, Mehmet Ali Agca
    December 27, 1983
  • The United States and the Vatican establish full diplomatic relations.
    The United States and the Vatican establish full diplomatic relations.
    The United States and the Vatican establish full diplomatic relations.
    January 10, 1984
  • Historic visit to Rome's main synagogue
    John Paul II prays at Rome's main synagogue, the first ever recorded visit of a pope to a synagogue.
    Historic visit to Rome's main synagogue
    April 13, 1986
  • Official visit of U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
    Official visit of U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
    Official visit of U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
    June 6, 1987
  • Official visit of U.S. President George H.W. Bush.
    Official visit of U.S. President George H.W. Bush.
    Official visit of U.S. President George H.W. Bush.
    May 27, 1989
  • Receives Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at the Vatican
    Receives Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at the Vatican in the first ever meeting between a pope and a Kremlin chief.
    Receives Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev at the Vatican
    December 1, 1989
1990's Pope
  • Issues first encyclical on social issues.
    Issues first encyclical on social issues since the fall of communism in Europe, giving qualified approval to capitalism but warning rich against taking advantage of poor.
    Issues first encyclical on social issues.
    May 1, 1991
  • Agreement signed establishing formal diplomatic ties between Israel and Vatican.
    Agreement signed establishing formal diplomatic ties between Israel and Vatican.

    Agreement signed establishing formal diplomatic ties between Israel and Vatican.
    December 30, 1993
  • John Paul II reaffirms the church's opposition to female priests
    John Paul II reaffirms the church's opposition to female priests in a letter to bishops, writing that the church "has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the church's faithful."
    John Paul II reaffirms the church's opposition to female priests
    May 30, 1994
  • Publishes his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
    Publishes his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
    Publishes his book, Crossing the Threshold of Hope.
    October 20, 1994
  • Issues encyclical "Gospel of Life," and condemns spreading "culture of death"
    Issues encyclical "Gospel of Life," and condemns spreading "culture of death," including abortion, euthanasia, experimentation on human embryos. The statement comes in the 11th encyclical -- a special letter reserved for matters of extreme importance to the church -- of John Paul's papacy.
    Issues encyclical "Gospel of Life," and condemns spreading "culture of death"
    March 25, 1995
  • Meets with Cuban President Fidel Castro.
    Meets with Cuban President Fidel Castro.
    Meets with Cuban President Fidel Castro.
    November 19, 1996
  • Vatican issues We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah, or Holocaust
    Vatican issues We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah, or Holocaust, expressing remorse for the cowardice of some Christians during World War II but defending the actions of wartime Pope Pius XII.
    Vatican issues We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah, or Holocaust
    March 16, 1998
  • Celebrates 20th anniversary as pope, asking for prayers to fulfill his mission
    Celebrates 20th anniversary as pope, asking for prayers to fulfill his mission "until the end."
    Celebrates 20th anniversary as pope, asking for prayers to fulfill his mission
    October 18, 1998
  • Gives permission to start the cause of beatification for Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
    Gives permission to start the cause of beatification for Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
    Gives permission to start the cause of beatification for Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
    March 1, 1999
2000's Pope
  • Mehmet Ali Agca is granted clemency & extradited to Turkey
    Mehmet Ali Agca, who attempted to assassinate John Paul II in 1981, is granted clemency by Italian President Carlo Ciampi, and extradited to his native Turkey.
    Mehmet Ali Agca is granted clemency & extradited to Turkey
    June 13, 2000
  • Receives U.S. President George W. Bush.
    Receives U.S. President George W. Bush.
    Receives U.S. President George W. Bush.
    May 28, 2002
  • A top Vatican official confirms pope has Parkinson's disease.
    A top Vatican official publicly acknowledges for the first time what observers have suspected for a decade -- that John Paul II suffers from Parkinson's disease. The pope had long showed signs of Parkingson's, including slurred speech and trembling.
    A top Vatican official confirms pope has Parkinson's disease.
    May 17, 2003
  • U.S. President George W. Bush awards pontiff the Medal of Freedom.
    U.S. President George W. Bush awards pontiff the Medal of Freedom.
    U.S. President George W. Bush awards pontiff the Medal of Freedom.
    June 4, 2004
  • The pope breathes heavily and gasps during an open-air Mass in Lourdes, France
    The pope breathes heavily and gasps during an open-air Mass in Lourdes, France, during one of just two foreign trips during the year.
    The pope breathes heavily and gasps during an open-air Mass in Lourdes, France
    August 15, 2004
  • Rushed to a hospital in Rome with flu and difficulties breathing.
    Rushed to a hospital in Rome with flu and difficulties breathing.
    Rushed to a hospital in Rome with flu and difficulties breathing.
    February 1, 2005
  • Returns to hospital after a relapse of the flu; undergoes a tracheotomy
    Returns to hospital after a relapse of the flu; undergoes a tracheotomy to ease his breathing.
    Returns to hospital after a relapse of the flu; undergoes a tracheotomy
    February 24, 2005
  • Vatican announces John Paul II has a high fever as a result of urinary tract infection
    The Vatican announces that John Paul II has a high fever as a result of a urinary tract infection. He later suffers septic shock, meaning that bacteria had spread from his urinary tract to his blood, poisoning his blood stream and causing his blood vessels to collapse. The pope receives the sacrament for the sick and dying, formerly known as the last rites.
    Vatican announces John Paul II has a high fever as a result of urinary tract infection
    March 31, 2005
  • Pope John Paul II dies at 84.
    Pope John Paul II dies at 9:37 p.m. of septic shock and cardio-circulatory collapse. He was 84.
    Pope John Paul II dies at 84.
    April 2, 2005