Karol Jozef Wojtyla was born on May 18, 1920 in the small city of Wadowice Poland. Young Karol faced tragedy early in his life with the death of his mother when he was only nine years old. His only brother passed away in 1932, followed by his father nine years later. His faith gave him the strength to get through these trying times. Karol's first career choice was the stage, In 1938 he enrolled in university to study drama. After the outbreak of the Second World War, he worked in a quarry and in a chemical factory to avoid deportation to Germany by the Nazis. In 1942, at great risk to his own life, he secretly enrolled as a seminarian.
Ordination into the priesthood came in 1946. Blessed with a brilliant mind, Father Karol completed doctorates in philosophy and sacred theology in 1948 following studies in Rome. His rise in the Church was rapid - Auxiliary Bishop in 1958, Archbishop in 1964 and Cardinal in 1967.
Throughout this time, the future Pope continued his work with young people as a teacher and mentor. What spare time he had was taken up with sports and writing.
Cardinal Wojtyla was elected Pope in October 1978 following the death of John Paul I. The new Pope John Paul II is arguably the most dynamic Pope of the modern era. He has met millions of people and has made over 40 official visits all over the world, including his visits to Canada in September 1984 and during World Youth Day XVII, July 2002.
Pope John Paul II died on April 2, 2005. On December 19, 2009, he was proclaimed venerable by his successor Pope Benedict XVI and was beatified on May 1, 2011.
On Divine Mercy Sunday 27 April 2014, along with Blessed John XXIII, Blessed John Paul II was canonized and became St. John Paul II.