40th Anniversary of Pope John Paul II's Election
He was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla, in the city of Wadowice, in southern Poland. Athletic in his youth, he especially enjoyed playing football (soccer).
In college, he worked as a volunteer librarian, performed with several theatrical groups, was a playwright, dabbled in poetry, and participated in mandatory military training, although he refused to fire a weapon.
And on this day 40 years ago, October 16, 1978, Karol Jozef Wojtyla was elected to the papacy, taking the name John Paul II.
Pope John Paul II was the first Pole to be made Pope, and the first non-Italian Pope in more than 400 years. At 58 he was also the youngest Pope when he succeeded John Paul I, who died after just 33 days in office.
John Paul II made historic moves to build bridges with other faiths
. He often welcomed the Dalai Lama, the Buddhist leader who fled Tibet after a CIA-sponsored uprising. He sought a closer relationship with Islam, and he desired to bring the Vatican closer to other Christian churches.
In his last years
, Parkinson's disease crippled the globe-trotting, multilingual pope. He became stooped and could barely walk and, at the end, was robbed of his ability to speak. But he continued to offer prayers and blessings, though they had to be read by others.
Many other memorable events marked Pope John Paul II's life. Students can explore eLibrary to find out more about this man, who was an inspiration to millions.
Students seeking additional information regarding the papacy can peruse these related related Research Topics:
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope John XXIII
Pope Pius XII