Pope Saint John Paul II’s pontificate began in 1978 and this article helps bring to every readers knowledge some of the Supreme Pontiff’s achievements, which need not be overlooked. His Pontificate lasted for 26 years and 5 months, which makes him the longest serving Pope after Pope Pius IX and Saint Peter himself.


  • Pope John Paul II’s achievements should be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records, because soon after he assumed the role of the Pope, he quickly broke the records of his predecessors. Few months after being elected Pope, his activities already got him the nickname, “Hurricane Wojtyla.”


He visited 129 countries. He made 104 trips abroad and another 146 within Italy. He traveled over 1,200,000 kilometers, which is more than three times the distance from Earth to the Moon or the equivalent of circumnavigating the world 30 times.


  • Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints says, “He launched himself with fervour and courage to all parts of the world. He visited hundreds of countries, not for pleasure or curiosity, but to preach the gospel of peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.”


In Manila, Philippines, during the World Youth Day in 1995, Pope John Paul II celebrated the biggest Mass in the course of history, where more than 4 million people attended.


  • Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales Archbishop of Manila, Philippines said, “I remember the Pope’s spokesman said that the crowd prevented the passage of the Popemobile. They had to walk two miles to reach the stage. The Mass was supposed to begin at 9, but we started at around 11. The spokesman described the World Youth Day in Manila as an “excess of success.”


These are records that show the personal power of the Pope and his tireless dedication to the Church. A reign full of achievements that will mark forever the history of Catholicism in the third millennium.


  • The Pope also celebrated smaller masses, like the one held before 200 people during a 1989 visit to the Nordic countries. He also held a mass in Azerbaijan in May 2002. He became the first Pope to visit those places.


Joaquin Navarro Valls former Pope’s spokesman said, “The Pope could no longer walk. It was a tremendous sacrifice for him to speak at that point, but, he decided to go to Azerbaijan, where the total number of Catholics was less than 200.”


  • The Pope wanted to go because he valued how that small group, the handful of Catholics who were in that country, had the right to celebrate the Holy Mass. They had the right to be with the Pope as if it were a country in which there were 200 million Catholics.


The figures of his reign are impressive. He was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years and the first Slavic pope in history.


  • As the bishop of Rome, he made 301 visits to parishes within that city. He held 1,160 General Audiences attended by more than 17 million people. He also named 231 cardinals from all continents. He met with at least 1,600 Head of States and Government. No one else has ever led so many people in such a diverse cultural context.


He held many catechisms for children, whom he called “the little friends of Jesus.” John Paul II was also the first pope to write a papal document for children, in this case it was a pastoral letter.


  • He was also a great writer. He signed more than 100 solemn documents, including 14 encyclicals, 45 apostolic letters and 14 apostolic exhortations. Throughout the years, his speeches and quotes were added to more than 100,000 pages.


He canonized more saints and beatified more blesseds than all his predecessors put together. He canonized 482 people and beatified another 1,338. Archbishop Piero Marini, Master of Ceremonies for John Paul II confirmed this when he said, “John Paul II proclaimed more saints than all other popes together since Urban VIII to Paul VI.”


  • His vision of dialogue with people of all religions was innovative. He was the first modern Pope to visit a synagogue, the first to enter a Protestant church and a mosque. He promoted dialogue with Jews and with representatives of other religions while calling for prayer and peace, especially in Assisi in October 1986.


These are all records that show the personal power of the Pope and his tireless dedication to the Church. A reign full of achievements that will mark forever the history of Catholicism and Christianity of the third millennium.


SOURCE : This article was adapted from Romereports, April, 27, 2011

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