Pope John Paul II Fast Facts

CNN  — 

Here’s a look at the life of the late Pope John Paul II. He was canonized as a saint on April 27, 2014.


Birth date: May 18, 1920

Death date: April 2, 2005

Birth place: Wadowice, Poland

Birth name: Karol Jozef Wojtyla

Father: Karol Wojtyla, officer in the Polish Army

Mother: Emilia Wojtyla

Education: Doctorate in Philosophy and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology, Jagiellonian University

Other Facts

Pope John Paul II died in April 2005 at the age of 84. His official cause of death was septic shock and cardio-circulatory collapse. He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease, arthritis and other ailments for several years before his death.

Upon his election in 1978, John Paul II was the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years. His official title was: Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Western Church, Patriarch of the West, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Province of Rome, Sovereign of the State of Vatican City.


First pope to visit the White House.

First modern pope to visit a synagogue.

First pope to visit Cuba.

The most widely traveled pope in history.

Canonized more saints than any other pope.

Created 232 cardinals.

Re-established diplomatic relations with Great Britain after a 450-year break.

In January 1984, re-established diplomatic relations with the United States which had been broken since 1867.

Established diplomatic relations with Israel and with the PLO.


May 18, 1920 - Karol Jozef Wojtyla is born in Wadowice, Poland, at 7 Koscielna Street. The little boy nicknamed Lolek is the third and last child of Karol, an officer in the Polish Army, and Emilia. His brother Edmund was born in 1906 and a sister, Olga, died in infancy in 1914.

1938 - After Karol Jr. graduates from high school, the Wojtylas move from Wadowice to Krakow. Karol Jr. attends Jagiellonian University until World War II begins in September 1939.

1941 - Wojtyla and his friends start an underground theater, called the Rhapsodic Theater, to present works in Polish in defiance of the Nazis. During the day, Wojtyla works in quarries and chemical factories.

1942 - Wojtyla joins an underground seminary organized by Archbishop Sapieha.

1946 - Wojtyla is ordained by Cardinal Sapieha to become a priest and celebrates his first Mass.

1946-1948 - Wojtyla studies in Rome, where he earns a doctorate in philosophy. After returning to Poland, he also earns a doctorate in Sacred Theology from Jagellonian University in December 1948.

1958 - Wojtyla is consecrated as a bishop.

1962-1965 - Wojtyla participates in Vatican II in Rome. He sides with the reformers who want to modernize the church. He also contributes to a document that states that the Church no longer considers Jews responsible for Christ’s death.

March 8, 1964 - Wojtyla is ordained as Archbishop of Krakow.

June 26, 1967 - In a secret consistory, Wojtyla is elevated to cardinal. Two days later, he is formally installed in a Vatican ceremony.

October 16, 1978 - Cardinal Karol Wojtyla is elected to be the 264th pope, the first non-Italian in 455 years. He is also the youngest pope since 1846. He takes the name John Paul II to honor his three immediate predecessors.

October 2, 1979 - Addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

May 13, 1981 - Pope John Paul II is shot by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca in Saint Peter’s Square. He is wounded in the abdomen, arm and hand. Two others are wounded as well. Vatican Secretary of State Agostino Cardinal Casaroli takes over as temporary head of the Roman Catholic Church.

December 27, 1983 - The pope meets with Ali Agca at Rebibbia Prison.

January 10, 1984 - The United States re-establishes full diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

December 26, 1994 - Time Magazine names Pope John Paul II its Man of the Year.

October 5, 1995 - He addresses the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, commemorating the organization’s 50th anniversary.

March 16, 1998 - The Vatican releases a formal apology to Jews for the Church’s failure to do more to prevent the Holocaust.

March 12, 2000 - Apologizes for the Church’s mistreatment of Jews, non-Catholic Christians, women, the poor and minorities over the last 2,000 years.

March 16, 2004 - With 25 years and 5 months as pope, John Paul II becomes the third longest serving pontiff in history, behind St. Peter’s 32 years and Pope Pius IX’s 31 years 7 months.

June 15, 2004 - Pope John Paul II asks forgiveness for the Inquisition, “for errors committed in the service of truth through use of methods that had nothing to do with the Gospel.”

February 1, 2005 - Hospitalized with a respiratory infection.

February 9, 2005 - For the first time in his papacy, John Paul II does not perform the Ash Wednesday Mass at the Vatican.

February 11, 2005 - Is released from the hospital.

February 24, 2005 - Re-hospitalized at Gemelli Hospital after relapsing with the flu. Successfully undergoes a tracheotomy to relieve respiratory problems.

March 13, 2005 - Released from the hospital.

March 30, 2005 - The Vatican announces that the pope is being fed by a nasal tube.

March 31, 2005 - Given last rites after developing a high-fever and a urinary tract infection.

April 1, 2005 - The Vatican says in a written statement that the pope had suffered cardiocirculatory collapse and septic shock. The Vatican denied reports that the pope was in a coma and described his condition as “lucid, fully conscious.”

April 2, 2005 - Pope John Paul II dies at 9:37 p.m. in his private apartment in the Vatican.

April 8, 2005 - His funeral takes place in Saint Peter’s Square and he is buried in a crypt under Saint Peter’s Basilica.

May 2005 - Pope Benedict XVI waives the wait period for review for beatification and canonization, which is at least five years after death.

May 1, 2011 - Is beatified, or declared “blessed,” as a saint by his successor Pope Benedict XVI. A vial of Pope John Paul II’s blood is displayed before the crowd.

July 5, 2013 - The Vatican announces that Pope John Paul II will be made a saint.

April 27, 2014 - Is canonized a saint, along with Pope John XXIII.

November 10, 2020 - An internal Vatican investigation concludes that Pope John Paul II was warned about allegations of sexual impropriety by Theodore McCarrick, but chose to promote him to Archbishop of Washington anyway following McCarrick’s own denials and an investigation by American bishops.


1979 - Dominican Republic, Mexico, the Bahamas, Poland, Ireland, the United States and Turkey.

1980 - Zaire, the Congo, Kenya, Ghana, Upper Volta (Burkina Faso), Ivory Coast, France, Brazil and West Germany.

1981 - Pakistan, the Philippines, Guam, Japan and the United States.

1982 - Nigeria, Benin, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal, Switzerland, San Marino, Spain, United Kingdom, Brazil and Argentina.

1983 - Portugal, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, Haiti, Poland, France and Austria.

1984 - US, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Thailand, Switzerland, Canada, Spain, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

1985 - Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, Togo, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Zaire, Kenya, Morocco, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

1986 - India, Colombia, St Lucia, France, Bangladesh, Singapore, Fiji Islands, New Zealand, Australia and Seychelles.

1987 - Uruguay, Chile, Argentina, West Germany, Poland, the United States and Canada.

1988 - Uruguay, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Austria, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and France.

1989 - Madagascar, Reunion Island, Zambia, Malawi, Norway, Iceland, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, South Korea, Indonesia, Mauritius and East Timor.

1990 - Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, Curacao, Malta, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda and Ivory Coast.

1991 - Portugal, Poland, Hungary and Brazil.

1992 - Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, and the Dominican Republic.

1993 - Benin, Uganda, Sudan, Albania, Spain, Jamaica, Mexico, US, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

1994 - Croatia.

1995 - Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Sri Lanka, Czech Republic, Poland, Belgium, Slovakia, Cameroon, South Africa, Kenya and the United States.

1996 - Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Venezuela, Tunisia, Slovenia, Germany, Hungary and France.

1997 - Bosnia, Czech Republic, Lebanon, Poland, France and Brazil.

1998 - Cuba, Nigeria, Austria and Croatia.

1999 - Mexico, US, Romania, Poland, Slovenia, India and Georgia.

2000 - Egypt, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian Territories and Portugal.

2001 - Greece, Syria, Malta, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Armenia.

2002 - Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Canada, Guatemala, Mexico and Poland.

2003 - Spain, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Slovakia.

2004 - France and Switzerland.