18.05.

1920: Pope Saint John Paul II Born as the Son of a Military Officer

1920: Pope Saint John Paul II Born as the Son of a Military Officer
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons / An ailing John Paul II riding in the Popemobile in September 2004 in St. Peter's Square

Story Highlights

  • Historical event
  • 18 May 1920
  • Pope's father was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army and then in the Polish army, where he ascended to the rank of captain.

Pope Saint John Paul II was born under the name of Karol Józef Wojtyła on this day in1920, in the small town of Wadowice, 50 kilometers from Krakow.

Pope’s father was an officer in the Austro-Hungarian army and then in the Polish army, where he ascended to the rank of captain.

When he was a boy, the future pope was called Lolek (short for Karol, as Bolek is short for Boleslav).

Mother of the future pope died when he was only 8 years old, so he was raised by his father. As a boy, Karol often played football as a goalkeeper.

In his elementary school at least one third of the students in the class were Jewish. When the Catholics played football against the Jews, Karol reportedly often played as a goalkeeper on the Jewish side.

In his youth he showed a remarkable talent for languages. Specifically, he learned as many as 12 languages, 9 of which he later abundantly used as pope.

Pope Saint John Paul II became the first non-Italian Pope since way back in 1523. During his mandate he proclaimed 1,340 blessed and 483 saints, more than all his predecessors together over 500 years.

He appointed 231 new cardinals. He was the first pope in history that entered into a synagogue and a Muslim mosque. He is also known for having the strength to apologize for errors that Catholics made in the past.

So, he apologized for the Catholic involvement in slave trade during history, for the trial of Galileo Galilei, the burnings at the stake and the religious wars, for the Crusader conquest of Constantinople, and the inactivity and silence of many Catholics during the Holocaust.

Pope Saint John Paul II is considered highly meritorious in the process of abolishing the totalitarian communist regimes in Central and Eastern Europe.

He was a great worshiper of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so he placed the letter M on his papal coat of arms and took the motto “Totus Tuus” from the Marian devotions of St. Louis de Montfort.

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