By T.K. Wilson (Rated G)
Hailed as a great peacemaker and one of the greatest popes in history, Saint Pope John Paul II had very humble beginnings. He was born Karol Wojtyła in Poland in 1920. His early life was marked by tragedy. His baby sister, his mother, and his elder brother all died before he reached his teens. He was a lively boy, a good student, and perhaps most surprising for a future pope, a gifted actor, co-founding a theater troupe.
He began college with a humanities degree, but his college career, his theater, and his budding vocation were threatened when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939. In order to escape conscription and continue in the underground seminary he was made part of, Karol worked in a stone quarry and in a chemical plant. He was ordained alone on All Saint’s Day 1946. After this, he was sent to Rome to receive more training, then he returned to his beloved Poland and his beloved youth ministry as a bishop. With his newfound position and power, he encouraged his people to resist the Communist threat.
In 1962, Karol attended the Second Vatican Council and worked on Humanae Vitae in 1968, after which, Pope Paul VI made him a cardinal. In 1978, he was made pope. The new Pope John Paul II took his love for mankind, and especially his love for the youth with him to Rome and set out with a mission to spread the Gospel. He traveled the world, meeting with rabbis and imams, made peace in countries, started World Youth Day, and sought the end of Communism. Not everyone was happy with John Paul II, however, and he was the victim of an assasination attempt in 1981, but even in this, John Paul II was forgiving and loving to his would-be murderer, even visiting him in prison.
In 2005, suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, Pope John Paul II went home to his Father’s house. Almost immediately, preparations for his eventual sainthood were discussed. Pope Benedict XVI announced that the five year waiting period would be waived and discussion for the beatification of Pope John Paul II would begin. He would later beatify his illustrious predecessor, and Pope Francis would raise him to sainthood in 2014.
In the mold of Saint Pope John Paul, may we all seek to use our talents for the Lord!