Saint John Paul II
Feast Day - October 22
Saint John Paul the Great
Pope Saint John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtył, also known as Saint John Paul the Great, was the 264th pope of the Catholic Church from 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005. He was the second longest-serving pope in modern history after Blessed Pope Pius IX who served for 31 years from 1846 to 1878.
Pope Saint John Paul II is recognized as helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. John Paul II significantly improved the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. He upheld the Church's teachings against artificial contraception and the ordination of women, supported the Church's Second Vatican Council and its reform, and in general held firm to orthodox Catholic stances.
He was one of the most travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 people and canonized 483 saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the preceding five centuries. By the time of his death, he had named most of the College of Cardinals, consecrated or co-consecrated a large number of the world's bishops, and ordained many priests. A key goal of his papacy was to transform and reposition the Catholic Church. His wish was "to place his Church at the heart of a new religious alliance that would bring together Jews, Muslims and Christians in a great [religious] armada."
John Paul II was canonized on 27 April 2014, alongside Pope John XXIII. Like John XXIII, his feast day is not celebrated on the date of his death as is usual, but on the anniversary of his papal inauguration, 22 October 1978.
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