Pope John Paul II
(Born: May 18'1920 Died: April 2'2005)
The Story of Pope John Paul
On October 16, 1978, at age 58, he was elected to succeed Pope John Paul I. He was the first Polish pope and also the first non-Italian pope since Pope Adrian VI in 1522. The new pope continued his travels and in 1981 he visited the United States. That same year Pope John Paul II suffered severe wounds when he was shot as he entered St. Peter's Square to address a general audience. The pope spent two and half months hospitalized but he fully recovered from his wounds. Two days after Christmas in 1983, Pope John Paul went to the prison and met with his would-be assassin. John Paul has kept their conversation confidential.
The pope has enjoyed hiking, skiing, backpacking, and kayaking. Young people have an even more special place in his heart. In 1985 he called young people to join him for the first World Youth Day celebration in Rome. Since that time he has continued to speak with young people, encouraging them to live the gospels and reach out in a spirit of evangelization to their peers. Pope John Paul II continues to celebrate World Youth Day every other year.
Death and Funeral
On 31 March 2005 Pope John Paul II developed septic shock, a widespread form of infection with a very high fever and profoundly low blood pressure, but was not taken to the hospital. Instead, he was offered medical monitoring by a team of consultants at his private residence. This was taken as an indication that the pope and those close to him believed that he was nearing death; it would have been in accordance with his wishes to die in the Vatican. Later that day, Vatican sources announced that John Paul II had been given the Anointing of the Sick by his friend and secretary Stanisław Dziwisz. During the final days of the Pope's life, the lights were kept burning through the night where he lay in the Papal apartment on the top floor of the Apostolic Palace. Tens of thousands of people assembled and held vigil in St. Peter's Square and the surrounding streets for two days. Upon hearing of this, the dying pope was said to have stated: “I have searched for you, and now you have come to me, and I thank you."
On Saturday 2 April 2005, at about 15:30 CEST, John Paul II spoke his final words, “pozwólcie mi odejść do domu Ojca”, (“Let me go to the house of the Father”), to his aides in his native Polish and fell into a coma about four hours later. The mass of the vigil of the Second Sunday of Easter commemorating the canonisation of Saint Maria Faustina on 30 April 2000, had just been celebrated at his bedside, presided over by Stanisław Dziwisz and two Polish associates. Also present at the bedside was a cardinal from the Ukraine who served as a priest with John Paul in Poland, along with Polish nuns of the Congregation of the Sisters Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, who ran the papal household. He died in his private apartment, at 21:37 CEST (19:37 UTC) of heart failure from profound hypotension and complete circulatory collapse from septic shock, 46 days short of his 85th birthday. John Paul had no close family by the time he died, and his feelings are reflected in his words, as written in 2000, at the end of his Last Will and Testament.