John Paul II – the first Slavonic pope was born Karol Wojtyla on 18th May 1920 in Wadowice, Poland. In 1938 he enrolled at Cracow’s Jagiellonian University but the following year saw the arrival of Nazi occupation forces and the subsequent closure of the university. Aware of his call to the priesthood, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Cracow. Soon after his priestly ordination on 1st November 1946, Cardinal Adam Sapieha sent him to Rome where he finished his doctorate in theology before returning to Poland. He was vicar for various parishes in Cracow as well as professor in the Faculty of Theology of Lublin. On 4th July 1958 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Cracow by Pope Pius XII. In 1964 he was nominated Archbishop of Cracow by Pope Paul VI, who made him a Cardinal on 26th July 1967. At the start of his Pontificate on 16th October 1978, he became the 264rd successor of Saint Peter the Apostle and the first non–Italian pope since 1522.
John Paul II, also known as the flying pilgrim of the 20th century, gave the Church new dynamism through his charisma and tireless activities for peace, human rights and dignity. His personality influenced the end of the Cold War and the Fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989.
This stamp is issued to commemorate the Holy Father’s third visit to Slovakia.
Ján Košiar, Vatican Radio, Rome
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