08 Oct Pope John Paul II
Dead: 2 April 2005
In: Citta del Vaticano, Roma, RM, Italia
He was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 1978 to 2005.
He was elected pope by the second Papal conclave of 1978, which was called after Pope John Paul I, who had been elected in August to succeed Pope Paul VI, died after 33 days.
Cardinal Wojtyła was elected on the third day of the conclave and adopted the name of his predecessor in tribute to him.
John Paul II is recognised as helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe.
John Paul II significantly improved the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism, Islam, and the Eastern Orthodox Church.
He upheld the Church's teachings on such matters as the right to life, artificial contraception, the ordination of women, and a celibate clergy, and although he supported the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, he was seen as generally conservative in their interpretation.
He was one of the most travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate.