Pope John Paul II, or Pope Wojtyla, made the history of the twentieth century with his pontificate. He directed the Church for 27 years, establishing relationships with rulers and heads of state, taking part in the most significant events of our time with his constant presence and tirelessness, even when his health conditions wouldn’t allow it. A passionate man in love with life, close to young people as no other Pope before him.
But today we don’t want to talk about his early sanctification, his merciful acts, profound humanity, joy and admirable living. Maybe there is still something about him that you don’t know.
- John Paul II was the first non-Italian Pope after 400 years. Just elected, he appeared on the balcony of St. Peter’s Square, and to justify his unfamiliar knowledge of the language he pronounced the famous phrase: “… and if I’m wrong, you’ll correct me.”
- He was the first Pope after St. Peter to enter a synagogue. John Paul II always had a special relationship with the Jews.
- John Paul II was always on the move. He traveled more than all Popes before him put together! He officially travelled in 129 countries around the world, but also made secret trips, to enjoy relaxation and solitude.
- Always on the road, he received the honorary Globetrotter award. The Globetrotter have been promoting, since the late 19th century, a new form of travel with improvised and adventurous means.
- His passion for sport, in particular mountaineering, skiing and swimming, is the reason behind his nickname of ‘athlete of God’.
- He was the first Pope whose face appeared on a banknote, in the 50 Polish zloty since 2006.
- During his papacy he performed 1338 beatifications of 482 sanctifications: a record never equaled by his predecessors.
- The World Youth Days, started in 1985, reached 5 million people in 1995 in Manila. The most famous was the one in Rome in 2000 for the Jubilee, when the press invented the word ‘papaboys’ to describe the more than 2 million young people who came to the Tor Vergata Square for the Pope.
- John Paul II apologized for many acts of cruelty and barbarism committed by the Catholic Church over the centuries, such as persecution of Protestants, participation in African slave trafficking and the persecution of the astronomer Galileo Galilei.
- John Paul II appears among the 10 most important and admired people of the twentieth century according to Citizen’s chart Gallup, a US company specializing in world socio-demographic research.