Born as Karol Józef Wojtyła on May 18, 1920, Pope John Paul II (also known as Blessed John Paul II) has been the favorite pope of the masses. He was the 264th Pope according to the chronological list of popes and the first non-Italian Pope since Dutch Pope Adrian VI (1522-1523). Till date, he is the only Slavic or Polish pope. He passed away at the age of 84 years and 319 days on 2 April 2005.
John Paul II is renowned as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. He has achieved what many people of his caliber would only dream of achieving. Here are the top ten reasons why he was the best amongst his peers.
10 REASONS WHY JOHN PAUL II WAS THE BEST POPE IN HISTORY
- He wrote 14 papal encyclicals and spread Christianity all over the globe by teaching about “The Theology of the Body”.
- He had a knack of attracting large crowds. Experts claim that he managed to call one of the largest assemblies ever known to be gathered in Christian history where 5 to 7 million people gathered on the Manila World Youth Day.
- Blessed Pope John Paul II was lovingly known as the The Pope for Youth. He initiated the World Youth Day, a popular Catholic faith themed international youth event, in 1984 to bring young Catholics from all parts of the world together to celebrate the faith.
- He loved to travel in order to spread his teachings all over the world. This was evident during his pontificate, as he visited 129 countries, and logged more than 725,000 miles.
- His personality, speeches and thoughts were so powerful that they brought about historic movements such as the Solidarity movement in 1980 resulting in freedom and introduction of human rights in Poland.
- John Paul II was the first pope to visit the countries including Egypt, Ireland, UK and Mexico. Every visit brought a huge positive change, especially his home country. He empowered the people of Poland to oppose communism, reintroduce democracy by defeating the domination of communist regimes under the lead of the Soviet Union in Central Europe between 1989 and 1990, Eastern Europe (1990–1991) and South-Eastern Europe (1990–1992).
- He was knowledgeable about other religions and managed to preach his teachings to people of all religious views. He was the first Catholic pope to visit and pray in an Islamic mosque, in Damascus, Syria in 2001. Post 9/11, he celebrated 1,700 years of Christianity in Armenia by preaching mass to an audience with Muslim majority.
- He was also the first pope in history to visit and pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem in March 2000. He became the first pope to receive blessings from a Rabbi.
- He supported causes like debt-relief, social justice, same-sex marriages and world peace. He was sensitive towards the pain of people of other faiths and apologized to everyone who had ever suffered at the hands of the Catholic Church at any point in history.
- He was an avid supporter of fitness and health. He set a good example for the youth and motivated them to work hard and eliminate procrastination, laziness and a tendency to see the easier way out.