Spirituality for Today – Spring 2021 – Volume 25, Issue 3

Saint of the Month for Season Spring 2021
John Paul II – April 2

Karol Jozef Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920 in the small Polish town of Wadowice. His family died when he was very young. In secondary school he developed a strong interest in the theater and had parts in several amateur performances. During World War II he lived in Krakow, where he entered the seminary and worked in a factory at the same time. He was ordained in 1946 and then studied in Rome for three more years. After returning to Poland he rose through the ranks in the Church hierarchy, from vicar of a rural parish to archbishop of Krakow and then cardinal. He played an important role in the works of the Second Vatican Council. He was elected people on October 16, 1978 and chose the name John Paul II.

The pope's first pilgrimage to his homeland in 1979 helped with the creation of the Solidarity trade union, which contributed to the collapse of communist governments in Poland and Central Europe. On May 13, 1981, he was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt. From then on the Pope traveled in a special bullet-proof "Pope Mobile."

John Paul II was often called the pope-pilgrim. He made 104 foreign trips to 129 countries. The masses he celebrated were attended by millions of faithful all over the world. Despite his high office, he remained a genuine, straightforward and cheerful man with an extraordinary sense of humor. Young people particularly appreciated these values, showing great trust and love for him. He called for peace in the world on many occasions and established good relations with the representatives of Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches, Islam and Judaism.

He died in the Vatican after a long illness on April 25, 2005. Over two billion people watched the funeral on TV and 4.5 million came to Rome. The faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square chanted, "Santo subito!" ("Saint now!").

True and Only God in Trinity,
owing to Your grace
we have obtained a model of love,
courage and devotion
in the person of John Paul II.
Give us the strength and wisdom
so that we have no fear
and follow the paths You chart.

From Ordinary People, Extraordinary Lives