Pope John Paul II - 1920-2005

    John Paul II was the longest serving pope of this past century, serving for 24 years (1978-2002).

    The first non-Italian pope in 455 years, John Paul II was also fluent in eight languages, among them Polish, Italian, French, English, German and Spanish.

    Besides taking part in Vatican Council II with an important contribution to the elaboration of the Constitution Gaudium et spes, then-Cardinal Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow, Poland, participated in all the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops.

    John Paul II was the most traveled pope in history, having completed 95 pastoral visits outside of Italy and 141 within Italy since 1978. He spent more than one-tenth of his pontificate outside the Vatican.

    During a visit to Spain in 1982 he preached to over 14.5 million believers in 10 days.

    As Bishop of Rome he visited 301 of the 334 parishes.

    His principal documents include 13 encyclicals, 13 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions and 41 apostolic letters. His letters, sermons and speeches fill nearly 150 volumes.

    John Paul II presided at 131 beatification ceremonies (1,282 blesseds proclaimed) and 43 canonization ceremonies (456 saints proclaimed) during his pontificate.

    He held eight consistories, in which he created 201 cardinals . He also convened six plenary meetings of the College of Cardinals . From 1978 until his death, John Paul II presided at 15 Synods of Bishops: six ordinary (1980, 1983, 1987, 1990, 1994, 2001), one extraordinary (1985) and eight special (1980, 1991, 1994, 1995, 1997, two in 1998 and one in 1999).

    More than 16 million pilgrims participated in the pope's General Audiences, held on Wednesdays in St. Peter's Square. That figure does not include other special audiences and religious ceremonies (including more than 8 million pilgrims during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 alone) and the millions of faithful met during pastoral visits made in Italy and throughout the world.

    John Paul II also had 38 official visits and 650 audiences and meetings with Heads of State, and 212 audiences and meetings with Prime Ministers.

    Selected Writings of Pope John Paul II

    The Acting Person, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1979.

    Pilgrimage of Peace, Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1980.

    A Year with Mary, Catholic Book Publishing Company, 1986.

    The Collected Plays & Writings on Theater, University of California Press, 1987.

    The Jeweler's Shop, Ignatius Press, 1992.

    Love and Responsibility, Ignatius Press, 1993.

    Person & Community: Selected Essays, Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1993.

    Crossing the Threshold of Hope, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1994.

    Evangelium Vitae (A papal letter, the title means "Gospel of Life"), Time Books, 1995.

    Gift and Mystery: On the 50th Anniversary of My Priestly Ordination, Doubleday, November, 1996.

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This page last updated April 14, 2006.