Feast Day of Pope St. John Paul II

Thursday, October 22, 2015 is the only the second time that the Church throughout the world will celebrate the Feast Day of Pope St. John Paul II.

Pope St. John Paul II, also known as Saint John Paul the Great, was Pope from October 16, 1978 until his death on April 2, 2005.  He was the second longest-serving pope in modern history after Pope Pius IX, who served for nearly 32 years from 1846 to 1878. Born in Poland, John Paul II is credited as helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe.  John Paul II significantly improved the Catholic Church’s relations with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion.

One of the most traveled world leaders in history, John Paul II visited 129 countries during his pontificate. As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 people and canonized 483 saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the preceding five centuries. By the time of his death, he had named most of the College of Cardinals, consecrated or co-consecrated a large number of the world’s bishops, and ordained many priests.

John Paul II’s cause for canonization commenced a month after his death, due to Pope Benedict XVI, his successor and close collaborator, having waived the traditional five-year waiting period.  Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed him Venerable on December 19, 2009 and Blessed on May 1, 2011 after the Congregation for the Causes of Saints attributed a miracle to him, the healing of a French nun from Parkinson’s disease. A second miracle, the healing of a Costa Rican woman from a brain aneurysm, was approved on July 2, 2013 and confirmed by Pope Francis two days later. John Paul II was canonized on April 27, 2014, alongside Pope John XXIII.  Like John XXIII, his feast day is not celebrated on the date of his death, but on the anniversary of his Papal election, October 22, 1978.  Last year, on Thursday, September 11, 2014, Pope Francis added his optional memorial to the worldwide General Roman Calendar of saints’ feast days, in response to requests from around the world.