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Karol Wojtyla was born on 18-th May 1920 in Wadowice, the second son of Karol Wojtyla, a retired army officer and tailor, and Emilia Kaczorowska Wojtyla. She died on 13-th April, 1929 at the age of 45. In 1926 Karol started his education in Wadowice. During secondary school he went on his first pilgrimage to Czestochowa. Karol Wojtyla was a very good student. He was president of the Society of Mary.

His passions in those early years were poetry, religion and the theatre. After graduating from secondary school in 1938, he and his father moved to Krakow where he enrolled at Jagiellonian University to study literature and philosophy. He also joined an experimental theatre group founded by Tadeusz Kudlinski and participated in poetry readings and literary discussion groups. After the Germans invaded Poland, he escaped deportation and imprisonment in late 1940 by taking a job as a stone cutter in a quarry. In 1940 Karol Wojtyla met Jan Tyranowski, a man of profound spirituality, shaped by the Carmelite School who introduced him to the writings of John of the Cross and Teresa d'Avila.

A few months later, on 18-th February of 1941, Wojtyla's 61-year-old father died, leaving his dream of seeing his son commit to the priesthood unfulfilled. It was another 18 months, however, before Karol began studying at an underground seminary in Krakow and registered for theology courses at the university. He continued his studies, acted and worked in a chemical plant until August of 1944. But when the Germans began rounding up Polish men, Karol Wojtyla took refuge in the archbishop of Krakow's residence, and remained there until the end of the war. He was ordained on 1-st November, 1946 in Krakow. He received Holy Orders from the hands of Archbishop Metropolitan Adam Sapieha in his private chapel. On 11-th November 1946 the priest Wojtyła baptised Monika Katarzyna, his friends' daughter. Cardinal Sapieha sent him to Rome where he worked under the guidance of the French Dominican, Garrigou-Lagrange. He finished his doctorate in theology in 1948 with a thesis on the topic of faith in the works of St. John of the Cross. In spring of 1947 Karol Wojtyla went to San Giovanni Rotondo to meet father Pio. On 3-rd July, 1947 Wojtyla earned a licentiate in theology. Next year he defended his thesis "The Problems of Faith in the Works of St. John of the Cross" and earned a doctorate in philosophy.

In 1948 Karol Wojtyla returned to Poland and was sent to work as a vicar in Niegowić. A year later he took up his priestly duties as an assistant pastor at St. Florian's Church in Krakow as well as chaplain for the university students until 1951, when he took up again his studies on philosophy and theology. In 1953 he defended a thesis on "evaluation of the possibility of founding a Catholic ethic on the ethical system of Max Scheler" at Lublin Catholic University. Later he became professor of moral theology and social ethics in the major seminary of Cracow and in the Faculty of Theology of Lublin.

On July 4, 1958, Karol Wojtyla was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cracow by Pope Pius XII, and was consecrated September 28, 1958, in Wawel Cathedral, Cracow, by Archbishop Baziak. In 1962 he left for Rome to participate in the first session of the Second Vatican Council (October 11 - December 8). In 1963 he participated in the II Session of the Second Vatican Council; in 1965 in the IV Session the Second Vatican Council.

In spite of all his activities, he didn't slight his scholarly duties. He wrote a treatise in 1960 called "Love and Responsibility" that laid out the foundation a modern Catholic sexual ethic.

On January 13, 1964, he was nominated Archbishop of Cracow by Pope Paul VI. A letter of Reconciliation of the Polish Bishops to the German Bishops, containing the famous words "We forgive and ask forgiveness", was sent in 1965. In 1966 Karol Wojtyla prepared and was present at the numerous celebrations of the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland. In May, 1967 Paul VI announced the next Consistory. Among the names of the new Cardinals was Archbishop Wojtyla. He took possession of the titular Church, S. Cesareo in Palatio, Rome. From September 29 till October 29, 1967 the First General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops took place. Cardinal Wojtyla did not attend it as a sign of solidarity with the Primate Stefan Wyszynski, who was not granted a passport.

On 6-th August, 1978 Pope Paul VI died. Cardinal Wojtyla was present at the funeral and a conclave. John Paul I (Albino Luciani) was elected Pope. On September 28, 1978, just 33 days after his election, Pope John Paul died of an apparent heart attack. Surprising to everyone, the papacy was then passed on (by a conclave of secret voters) to Karol Wojtyla, the first non-Italian pope in over 450 years, who-in memory of John Paul I-chose to be called John Paul II.

Since the start of his Pontificate on October 16, 1978, Pope John Paul II has completed a great number of pastoral visits all around the world . Up till now John Paul II has been to Poland nine times.

His principal documents include encyclicals , apostolic exhortations , apostolic constitutions and apostolic letters. The Pope has also published three books : "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" (October 1994); "Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination" (November 1996) and "Roman Triptych - Meditations".

On Saturday April 2, 2005, Pope John Paul II died at 9:37 PM Vatican time. He died at the age of 84 after reigning for 26 years. On April 4, John Paul II's body was laid out at St. Peter's Basilica for a public viewing. Millions of people gathered at funeral Mass in Rome to mourn the Pope on Friday 8-th April. "We can be sure that our beloved pope is standing today at the window of the Father's house, that he sees us and blesses us," said cardinal Ratzinger during the Mass. Pope John Paul II's body was buried in a crypt under St. Peter's Basilica.

On April 19 the conclave of cardinals chose cardinal Ratzinger to replace John Paul II who had occupied the office of Pope for the past 26 years. On May 13 Pope Benedict XVI announced the immediate opening of a cause for the beatification of Pope John Paul II waiving the usual 5-year waiting period that is required after the death of a candidate for beatification.

3 The beatification ceremony of Pope John Paul II was held on 1 May 2011, Divine Mercy Sunday. Pope Benedict XVI declared his predecessor, John Paul II, Blessed, in a ceremony attended by more than a million of the faithful.
On 2 May 2011 John Paul II's coffin was sealed within St. Peter’s under the Altar of St. Sebastian.

John XXIII and John Paul II were canonized on Sunday 27 April 2014 by Pope Francis in an unprecedented ceremony witnessed by huge crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square in Vatican City while others watched it from video screens placed around Rome.

The decision to canonize was made official by Pope Francis on 5 July 2013 following the recognition of a miracle attributed to the intercession of John Paul II.

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