Dies on Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday
Feast Establish by John Paul II
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2005 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II's final days
coincided with the Church's preparation to celebrate the feast he
described as flowing from Christ's "most profound mercy," and which
he himself established.
John Paul II designated the second Sunday of Easter to be Divine
Mercy Sunday in a surprise announcement at the canonization of
Sister Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938). The Polish nun, beatified in
1993, and canonized in 2000, on the second Sunday of Easter, began
the spiritual movement of Divine Mercy.
The feast, said the Holy Father, "is a perpetual invitation to the
Christian world to address, with trust in divine benevolence, the
difficulties and trials that await the human race in the coming
The essence of St. Faustina's mission was to proclaim God's mercy
toward every human being. Her spiritual legacy to the Church is
devotion to Divine Mercy, inspired by a vision in which Jesus
himself asked that a painting be made of his image with the
invocation "Jesus, I trust in you" appearing below. She commissioned
the painting in 1935.
Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, then Archbishop of Krakow, began Sister
Faustina's process of beatification.
On Aug. 17, 2003, John Paul II entrusted the world to Divine Mercy
when he dedicated the new shrine of Lagiewniki, a suburb of Krakow,
located next to the convent where St. Faustina Kowalska lived and
John Paul II has died
Rome, Apr. 02 (CWNews.com) - Pope John Paul II died late on
Saturday night, April 2, ending one of the longest and most
influential pontificates in the history of the Catholic Church.
The Holy Father remained "extraordinarily serene" during his final
illness, according to his spokesman, Joaquin Navarro-Valls. He had
suffered heart failure the previous evening while being treated for
an infection of his urinary tract. As his condition deteriorated
rapidly during the day on Friday and then Saturday, with his body
wracked by septic shock and kidney failure, the Pope remained in
prayer with his closest aides, losing consciousness only late in the
evening before his death.
Pope John Paul was 84 years old at the time of his death. He had
been afflicted by Parkinson's disease, causing a serious curtailment
of his activities, for several years. In February 2005, he was
hospitalized twice for severe respiratory problems. Doctors at the
Gemelli Hospital had inserted a tube in his throat to ease his
breathing, and earlier this week the Vatican had disclosed that a
feeding tube had also been inserted to provide him with
supplementary nourishment because of his difficulty in swallowing.
The Pope's last public appearance came on Easter Sunday, when he
came to the balcony of his apartment in the apostolic palace to
deliver the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing. During that
public appearance the Pope was in obvious pain, and unable to speak.
In October 1978, Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow, Poland, was
elected the 264th Roman Pontiff-- the youngest Pope of the 20th
century and the first non-Italian to serve as leader of the Catholic
world in over 400 years. He took the name John Paul II, and in a
memorable first appearance as Pope, immediately won the hearts of
the Roman crowd as he greeted them with the words of Jesus, which
would echo throughout his 26-year pontificate: "Be not afraid!"
Only two Popes-- Blessed Pius IX, who served over 31 years, and St.
Peter himself-- have held the papacy for longer than John Paul II.
During his extraordinary pontificate, he became the most widely
recognized man in human history, traveling to greet millions of
people all around the world, and earning credit as one of the
principal architects of the fall of Soviet Communism. His years in
the papacy saw a series of "firsts," and an astonishing output of
encyclicals, apostolic letters, and other writings.
Born in Wadowice, Poland, on May 18, 1920, Karol Wojtyla was raised
primarily by his father, a military officer also named Karol, after
his mother's death in 1929. When his father died in 1941, he was
left alone, as a student in Krakow's Jagiellonian Unversity. During
the occupation of Poland by Nazi forces in World War II, he was
pressed into labor as a stonecutter, then in a chemical factory, but
worked with the Polish underground and maintained an avid interest
In 1942 the young Wojtyla entered a clandestine seminary, and after
the war, in 1946, he was ordained by Cardinal Adam Sapieha of
Krakow. He continued his studies in Rome under the famous French
Dominican, Father Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, and earned degrees in
theology and philosophy, with a dissertation on the mystical works
of St. John of the Cross. He returned to Poland to teach at the
Krakow seminary, while also serving as a parish priest, and forming
friendships with a number of young families-- friendships that
remained intact throughout his life.
At the age of just 38 he was named an auxiliary bishop of Krakow by
Pope Pius XII, and in 1962 he became the city's archbishop. He was
raised to the College of Cardinals by Pope Paul VI at the age of 47.
The scholarly young Polish prelate was an influential figure in the
deliberations of the Second Vatican Council, taking a particularly
active role in the writing of Gaudium et Spes
, the dogmatic constitution on the Church and the modern world.
In August 1978, he took part in the conclave that elected Cardinal
Albino Luciani of Venice to become Pope John Paul I; when that
Pontiff died abruptly after just 33 days, he again entered the
conclave-- to emerge as Pope John Paul II.
During visits to his native Poland, John Paul II proved to be a
lightning-rod for the growing opposition to the country's Communist
regime. On May 13, 1981, he was shot and severely wounded by Mehmet
Ali Agca in an assassination attempt that took place immediately
after a public audience in St. Peter's Square. Vatican officials
immediately suspected that the leaders of the Soviet Union had
authorized the attempt on the Pope's life-- a hypothesis that
appears to have been confirmed by documents recently discovered in
the archives of the East German secret service.
Alongside his historic role in the fall of Communism, John Paul II
has also been the world's most influential defender of the dignity
of human life; his memorable calls for the development of a "culture
of life"-- and his parallel denunciations of the "culture of
death"-- have been instrumental in rallying opposition to abortion,
contraception, euthanasia, and embryonic-tissue research.
The Polish Pontiff was an ardent exponent of Christian unity, who
made special efforts to reach out to other Christian churches. He
was especially insistent on the need to bring together the Eastern
and Western Christian traditions, saying that the Church must
"breathe with both lungs."
By far the most traveled Pontiff in history, John Paul II made 104
trips outside Italy during his pontificate, as well as 146 inside
the country. His long papacy saw a huge increase in the number of
saints formally recognized by the Church; he beatified 1,338 people,
and canonized 482. He was the author of 14 encyclicals, 15 apostolic
exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions, 45 apostolic letters, and
five books that appeared during the time he served as Pope.
POPE JOHN PAUL II
RECEIVES ETERNAL REWARD
Vatican City, Apr. 02, 2005 (CNA) -
Pope John Paul II has received his eternal reward. The much-loved
Pope died Saturday afternoon in Rome after serving the universal
Church as the vicar of Christ for 26 years, five months and 17 days.
The third-longest serving pontiff, after St. Peter and Pope Pius IX,
died serenely in his papal apartments overlooking St. Peterís
The Vatican made the announcement Saturday afternoon to the tens of
thousands of Catholics and non-Catholics from around the world, who
had gathered in St. Peterís Square to pray the for the Pope and to
show the ailing pontiff their love and support.
On Friday, Camillo Cardinal Ruini celebrated an evening mass at St.
John Lateran Basilica. Afterward, tens of thousands had gathered in
St. Peterís Square below the windows of the papal apartment to pray
the Rosary and to keep vigil.
Pope John Paul II, who had Parkinsonís and a debilitating hip and
knee ailment, suffered from greater illness for the last two months.
The 84-year-old Pope was admitted to hospital Feb. 1 for
complications related to the flu. He was admitted three weeks later
and underwent a tracheotomy.
Thursday, the Vatican reported that the Pope had developed a high
fever as the result of a urinary tract infection. The Pope
subsequently suffered septic shock and heart and kidney failure. By
Saturday morning, he was slipping in and out of consciousness.
On Thursday, the bedridden Pope asked to be read the Stations of the
Cross, Vatican spokesperson Joaquin Navarro-Valls told the press.
Navarro-Valls said Friday the Pope had told his aides that he did
not want to return to hospital for treatment.
Preparations are currently under way for the Popeís funeral, which
will likely be held within six days. The papal quarters will also be
A mourning period of nearly two weeks will follow before the
cardinals under the age of 80 will gather in Rome to begin the
process of electing a new leader for the Catholic Church.
Elected Oct. 16, 1978, Pope John Paul II was the first non-Italian
pontiff in 455 years.