This year, one of the world’s most beloved popes, Saint John Paul II, will be celebrating his 100th birth anniversary. To commemorate such event, Pope Francis will be holding a Mass at the saint’s tomb on John Paul II’s actual birthday on May 18, Monday.
The Mass for John Paul II’s birth anniversary will also be the last live streamed Mass for the quarantine period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past two months or so, Masses celebrated by the Pope have been broadcast online all over the world for those who cannot physically go to church and hear Mass.
But starting May 18, the Italian government will be allowing churches to hold public masses, given that they still observe proper health protocols such as physical distancing and proper cough etiquette. Which is why the pope has chosen to cease the live streaming of Masses after the Mass for Saint John Paul II.
Saint John Paul II
Saint John Paul II, born Karol Józef Wojtyła, was born on May 18, 1920 in Wadowice, Second Polish Republic. He was the youngest of the three children of Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. During the German occupation of Poland, the younger Karol had to work different jobs (from 1940-1944) for the Germans as all able-bodied men were required to do so.
Two years after, he was ordained as a priest on All Saints’ Day by Cardinal Sapieha, Archbishop of Krakow. Karol went on to study for his doctorate at what is now known as the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome.
In 1958, then-Pope Pius XII appointed him as the Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow, and he became the youngest bishop of Poland at 38 years old. After which he spent a couple of years being part of the Vatican Council, Synod of Bishops, and acting as Pope Paul VI’s consultor for the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
When Pope Paul VI passed away in 1978, then-Cardinal Wojtyła voted in the Papal Conclave where Pope Paul I was elected. Unfortunately, after 33 days in office, Pope Paul I passed away due to heart attack. This initiated another Papal Conclave where Cardinal Wojtyła was voted to become his successor–which is ironic because he wasn’t one of the strong contenders to become the next pope. He then became the 264th pope and the first non-Italian to assume the position.
He took the name John Paul II to honor his predecessor, and served as head of the Church from 1978 to 2005. He passed away at 84 years old on April 2, 2005, due to hypotension (low blood pressure). Pope John Paul II was beatified in 2011 by his successor Pope Benedict XVI and was canonized three years later by Pope Francis.
Saint John Paul II’s feast day is celebrated every October 22.