John Paul II’s feast day is today, it is unlike other feast days as it is on the date in which he was inaugurated Pope as the date of his death most of the time falls during late Lent or early Easter. John Paul is another Pope who is closely connected with Mary so it is fitting that his feast day is in a month which has a devotion to Mary. Back when John Paul was canonized I did a biographical thing but really ended at his election to the Papacy. So here goes the second or third longest papacy in history some 27 years in total.
John Paul II was elected Pope on October 16 two days after the conclave to replace John Paul I opened. There were a total of eight rounds of ballots and in the final round they elected the first non-Italian pope since Pope Adrian and the youngest since Pope Pius IX. John Paul is known best as the Pilgrim Pope as he traveled extensively. John Paul’s 104 foreign trips were more than all the previous 263 Popes combined. Wherever he traveled he attracted a large crowd, at World Youth Day in 1995 it is said that more than 5 million people attended the final mass. Many of the locations he visited were the first time a Pope had ever visited. John Paul was the first Pope to visit a Mosque and the Jewish Synagogue in Rome as well as pray at the Western Wall. He also met with many other religious leaders from across the spectrum of religions (Animists, Buddhists, Jewish, Islamic, as well as the Eastern Orthodox, and some of the denominations notably the Lutherans and Anglicans.)
Most of the teaching of Vatican II have come to us through the lens of John Paul II as he decided to focus on certain elements. John Paul brought the Church from Vatican II to the 21st Century. One of the important teachings that comes from JPII is his whole Theology of the Body, which is a meditation on human sexuality. I’ve never tried to read them so I can’t really say one way or the other what they really say. It is said that he was also influential in overthrowing many dictatorships, notably the Communists in Poland. John Paul also did something great he apologized for many of the things that the Church did in the past. As Pope he also beatified and canonized a boatload of people.
On May 13, 1981 an assassin, Mehmet Ali Ağca, tried to kill John Paul II but through the watch of Our Lady of Fatima he made it out just fine. This wasn’t the only attempt on John Paul II’s life about a year later on May 12, 1982 it is said that a member of Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) tired to or wounded the Pope as he was opposed to the changes that took place with Vatican II and he believe the pope to be a Communist agent. There was also an assassination planned by Al-Qaeda as well as many planned by the KGB.
John Paul’s devotion to Mary is deep as seen in his motto as well as his coat of arms. On this feast of John Paul let us devote some time to Mary our mother. In this month of October it is great that we can pray the rosary is a great way to do this