Mint Stamp Honors Pope John Paul II
This souvenir sheet commemorates the second-longest serving Pope.
Beloved by people of all faiths, the pope was a strong advocate for human rights. Millions of people around the globe mourned his passing in 2005.
Karol Jozef Wojtyla was born in Poland in 1920. During the Nazi occupation, he joined an underground seminary to study for the priesthood. Father Wojtyla ascended through the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and was elected pope in 1978. With this election, Pope John Paul II became the first non-Italian pope in 455 years, and the youngest man to hold the office in 132 years.
Pope John Paul II conducted more than 170 visits to 115 countries around the world, inspiring millions with his messages. His criticism of dictators Stroessner, Pinochet, and Marcos encouraged opposition movements that led to their downfall. He supported the Polish Solidarity movement by sending messages to union leaders via priests, with notes smuggled under their robes. Many historians believe Pope John Paul II’s role was crucial to the end of communism in Poland.
In 2000, Pope John Paul made a ground-breaking pilgrimage to the Holy Land. On June 4, 2004, President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.