Saint of the Day for 22 October: St. John Paul II
St. John Paul II: Life, Legacy and Influence of the Pilgrim Pope
Karol Józef Wojtyła
May 18, 1920, Wadowice, Poland
April 02, 2005, Vatican
May 01, 2011, Rome, Pope Benedict XVI
April 27, 2014, Rome, Pope Francis
Oh St. John Paul, from the window of Heaven give us your blessing! Bless the Church, whom you loved and served and led, courageously pushing her on the ways of the world to bring Jesus to all and all to Jesus. Bless the youth, who have been your great passion. Bring them back to dream bring them back to look up to find the light, which illuminates the paths of life down here. Bless the families, bless every family! You have warned of Satan’s assault against this precious and indispensable spark of Heaven, which God has kindled on earth. John Paul, with your prayer protect the family! Pray for the whole world, still marked by tensions, wars by injustices. You fought war by calling for dialogue and sowing love: pray for us, that we may be tireless sowers of peace. St. John Paul, from the window of Heaven let God’s blessing descend upon us all. Amen
Patron Saint of
Valvarrone, Terre del Reno, Borgo Mantovano, Trecastelli, Rivignano Teor
Families, World Youth Day
The Saint and Mission
St. John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła, was undoubtedly one of the most influential popes in the recent history of the Catholic Church. During his long pontificate, he carried out a clear and incisive mission, significantly defining the spiritual and pastoral direction of the Church in a rapidly changing world.
From the beginning of his ministry as pope, John Paul II manifested a bold and global missionary vision. His training in Poland, first under Nazi occupation and then under communist rule, provided him with a unique perspective on freedom, human dignity and the importance of faith as a bulwark against oppressive ideologies. This experience forged in him a determination to defend fundamental human rights and to promote religious freedom everywhere.
The enthusiasm and passion with which he embarked on his apostolic journeys around the world bore witness to his missionary vision. He visited more than 100 countries, meeting people of different faiths, cultures and traditions. Each trip was an opportunity for him to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, to establish dialogue with other religious denominations and to encourage Catholics to live out their faith with courage.
St. John Paul II also had a clear ecumenical and interreligious vision. He worked tirelessly to bring different Christian denominations closer together and to establish constructive dialogue with other religions. The historic Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi in 1986, where representatives of many world religions gathered to pray for peace, was a tangible expression of this vision of his.
In addition, his commitment to the new evangelization was another key aspect of his mission. He recognized that in many parts of the world, even in traditionally Christian parts, there was a growing need to rediscover and renew the faith. He called on the Church to respond with creativity and apostolic ardor to this need, stressing the importance of catechesis, education and formation.
Finally, his deep spirituality and personal relationship with Christ were the driving force behind every aspect of his mission. He firmly believed that every Christian was called to an intimate relationship with Jesus and that, through this relationship, each person could become an authentic witness to the Gospel. His insistence on the importance of prayer, contemplation and active participation in the sacraments were the foundation on which to build an authentic missionary life.
St. John Paul II embodied a dynamic and universal missionary vision, rooted in deep faith and fueled by his passion for Christ and humanity. Through his leadership, he guided the Church to new horizons, always with his gaze fixed on the central mission of proclaiming the Good News to all nations.
The Saint and Mercy
St. John Paul II is universally recognized as one of the most influential and charismatic popes of the 20th century. But in addition to his political and spiritual role, one of the distinguishing features of his pontificate was his emphasis on God’s mercy. The depth with which he treated this theme was not only theological or doctrinal, but also deeply personal and pastoral.
His intimate connection with divine mercy originated from his youthful experience in Poland during World War II and the subsequent communist regime. He saw and experienced the atrocities of hatred, violence and injustice. However, instead of giving in to despair or bitterness, Karol Wojtyła, the future John Paul II, sought refuge in God’s love and mercy. This formative experience laid the foundation for his later teaching as pope.
During his pontificate, John Paul II renewed the Church’s call to recognize God’s mercy as the very essence of the Christian message. He wrote the encyclical “Dives in Misericordia” (Rich in Mercy) in 1980, where he explored the nature of divine mercy and its crucial role in the lives of believers and the Church’s mission in the world. The encyclical not only discussed mercy in theological terms, but also emphasized how mercy should be lived and practiced on a daily basis.
John Paul II also instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy, responding to the appeals of St. Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun who had visions of Jesus as the King of Mercy. This feast, celebrated on the Sunday following Easter, underscores the central importance of mercy in the Christian life.
But in addition to words, the Polish Pope embodied mercy through his actions. One of the most powerful examples of this was when he visited in prison and forgave Mehmet Ali Ağca, the man who had attempted to assassinate him in 1981. This gesture of forgiveness showed the whole world the transformative power of mercy and offered a tangible witness to what it means to live the Gospel.
St. John Paul II taught us that mercy is not just an abstract concept or a doctrine, but a living, breathing reality that has the power to transform the human heart and the world. He emphasized that, in mercy, we find God’s response to the challenges and sufferings of our time. Through his teaching and witness, John Paul II reminded us all that we are loved unconditionally by God and that we are called to be instruments of His mercy in every corner of the earth.
Usually, for one to be officially declared a saint, much water must pass under the bridges of the Tiber, with the risk that his memory will dissolve in the viscous amalgam of time. Few exceptions have been made. One involved Pope John Paul II, who passed away in 2005. With him, the Vatican bureaucracy burned its bridges, taking up the call made loudly by the hundreds of thousands of people who flocked to Rome to pay their last respects: “Immediately holy!” The memory of the pope who came from the East is still very much alive in the heart and…