Saint John Paul II

Saint John Paul II developed a profound vision of the dignity of the human person in relation to others and ultimately to God. He brought this vision to the world stage where he inspired and guided the Catholic Church. He traveled around the globe to influence political leaders and lead social movements promoting the dignity of the human person and to respect freedom of conscience and religion. His signature phrases, such as “Be not afraid,” and “Love is stronger than death”, changed the hearts and minds of believers and non‐believers.

Learn about the different qualities that made Saint John Paul II special:

  • Poet
  • Priest
  • Pope
  • Philosopher

The Poet

JPII_Subpage_Poet"I send you greetings in the name of beauty, which is the profile of God, the cause of Christ, and the cause of Poland.” (John Paul II, 1941.)

A collection of poetry by Pope John Paul II’s work from 1939 – 1978 can be read in The Place Within: The Poetry of Pope John Paul II.

In his poetry, one can discover symbolic images and objects that appear constantly and carry on the central ideas of his worldview.

Examples of such central themes, which organize deep human experience into the material of linguistic signs, include:

  • Shining objects
  • The depth of the soul
  • A picture that cannot be lifted
  • The brightness of the water
  • A reflecting and absorbing mirror
  • Spiritual space
  • Reaching beyond oneself
  • Personal unification
  • A shining and enlightening window

The Priest

JPII_Subpage_Priest"When I think of the Eucharist, and look at my life as a priest, as a bishop, and as the successor of Peter, I naturally recall the many times and places in which I was able to celebrate it."

"This gives me a powerful experience of its universal and cosmic character. Yes, cosmic! when it is celebrated on the humble altar of a country church, the Eucharist is always in some way celebrated on the altar of the world."

The Pope

  • JPII-Subpage-PopePope of Vatican II
  • Implementation of Vatican II, a renewal of church and society
  • Pope of the New Millennium– post-world-war, post-communism – for freedom, rights, development, and human dignity
  • Pope of the Family
  • Pope of faith and culture: “Open wide the doors to Christ” and “Be not afraid”– for  evangelization
  • Pope of mercy, calling suffering “the great mystery of human destiny.” Under the Cross is divine mercy.
  • Author of 14 encyclicals:
    • TRINITARIAN TRIPTYCH:
      • Redemptor Hominis (“The Redeemer of Man”)
      • Dives in Misericordia (“Rich in Mercy”)
      • Dominum et Vivificantem (“Lord and Giver of Life”)
    • SOCIAL:
      • Laborem Exercens (“Engaging in Work”)
      • Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (“Solicitude for the Social Condition”
      • Centesimus Annus (“The Hundredth Year”)
    • ECCLESIOLOGICAL:
      • Slavorum Apostoli (“Apostles of the Slavs”)
      • Redemptoris Mater (“Mother of the Redeemer”)
      • Redemptoris Missio (“The Mission of the Redeemer”)
      • Ut Unum Sint (“That They May Be One”)
      • Ecclesia de Eucharistia (“The Church from the Eucharist”)
    • ANTHROPOLOGICAL:
      • Veritatis Splendor (“The Splendor of Truth”)
      • Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”)
      • Fides et Ratio (“Faith and Reason”)

The Philosopher

The newly elected Pope, John Paul II (Karol Jozef Wojtyla) of Poland, October 19, 1978. (Photo by Central Press/Getty Images)

  • Professor of philosophy at Lublin University
  • Studied and taught on the thought of Max Scheler, Thomas Aquinas, Immanuel Kant, andAristotle
  • Authored The Acting Person, an important work on Human Action, published worldwide in 1977
  • Made a project in the renewal of Thomism
    • Thomas as “Doctor Humanitatis”
  • Employed phenomenology as a supplement
    • “Back to the things themselves”
    • Study of experience and “Life world”
  • Placed focus on the Dignity of the Person
    • Neither cosmology nor philosophy of nature was as central to the cultural role of philosophy as was philosophical anthropology (Personalism)