10 Facts You Never Knew about St John Paul II

Saint John Paul II was an amazing man, priest, bishop, pope, and now Saint! But here are 10 things about him that you may have never known:

Screen Shot 2014-04-28 at 10.23.26 AM

  1. Saint John Paul II could speak Latin fluently. A rare art these days. Oh and besides his native Polish, he could also converse in: Slovak, Russian, Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Ukrainian, and English.
  2. Saint John Paul II received his call to the priesthood when he once accidentally “caught” his father praying alone during the night on his knees.
  3. Saint John Paul II was an expert on Saint John of Cross and the Carmelite mystical tradition. The title of one of his doctoral dissertations (yes, the man had not one, but two doctorates) was “The Doctrine of Faith in Saint John of the Cross.”
  4. Saint John Paul II was the first Pope to visit the White House in the United States.
  5. Saint John Paul II visited 129 nation during his pontificate – the most of any Pope ever (including Saint Peter)!
  6. Saint John Paul II has the honor as the one human who has gathered the most humans together in one spot! At the 1995 World Youth Day in the Philippines, an estimated 5 million people attended a Holy Mass that His Holiness celebrated. This was the largest human gathering from the creation of mankind.
  7. Saint John Paul II was shot on May 13, 1981 – May 13 is the anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s first apparition!
  8. Saint John Paul II was elected Pope on October 16 – the feast of Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque – the famous saint who promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart of Our Lord Jesus Christ. This is appropriate since the Divine Mercy devotion is a further flowering of devotion to the Sacred Heart!
  9. Saint John Paul II received pre-processed food through a nasal tube during the last week of his life.
  10. How did he die?  The Vatican stated that had died from “cardiocirculatory collapse and septic shock.”

And one last thing that you may not have known: He was praying for you during his last days. And he is praying for you right now!

Saint John Paul II, pray for us!

Question: Did I miss anything? Please share your interested facts about this great Pope and Saint in the comments. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Download My Book for Free
Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages
Over 15,000 copies downloaded! This is a quick and easy way to learn the basic philosophy and theology of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The Popes of the last 300 years have endorsed St Thomas Aquinas. Learn more through this accessible resources. Download it for free.

Comments Policy: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. If your comment contains a hyperlink to another site, your comment automatically goes into "Comments Purgatory" where it waits for release by way of moderation.

  • RAM

    Enlightening. 😀
    I believe the last “his” was meant to be “he’s”.

    • Concerned citizen

      It is really “his”, not he’s. Check your grammar. He’s means “he is”.

      • RAM

        Hi. I know “he’s” means “he is”.
        But let’s not forget what’s the article about.
        Have a great night. 😀

  • Iwona

    He was a playwright and good skier.

    • I love the skiing photos! Here’s a great one:

      • Iwona M

        Wow!!! This is very high. Thank you for posting.

  • me

    I have one to add! What about the story of how he was nearly shot as a child by a friend playing with a gun. The bullet inexplicably shattered in two in mid air.

    • I hadn’t heard that one!

    • fredx2

      That’s not the version that is included in Witness and Hope, his biography written by George Weigel. There, Weigel says the gun went off and the bullet went past JP II’s head. All involved knew it was a close call.

  • Luke Arredondo

    He also became a bishop in large part because the Communists thought he was the most likely candidate that they could manipulate. The Archbishop at the time would submit priest’s names to some Communist officer to get approval on candidates to keep a minimum level of peace during their occupation in Poland. Their spies had one name written and one name only to approve at the time: Karol Wojtyla. It took the Archbishop quite a few attempts at submitting names before he finally submitted Wojtyla and got approval. This is super ironic because the very man they thought would be most open to intimidation and manipulation proved to be the strongest opposition to Communism and eventually led to the downfall of their power in Krakow.

    • rockanne

      I thought this was because he already had a spy close to him so they mistakenly figured he could be manipulated more easily or they were safe because he was being so closely watched.

  • MPR

    This was a great post. Thank you for posting these facts about our wonderful new Saint!
    Saint John Paul II, pray for us!
    +God bless

  • Josephine Cendejas

    I think too He was a pope who had special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe and loved to visit Mexico

  • Michael Brooks

    Pope Saint John Paul II was a 3rd Order Discalced Carmelite.

  • Alma Wentworth

    I really like # eleven!

  • Gracies Mom

    Twice he tried to join the Discalced Carmelites but was turned away with the advice: “You are destined for greater things.”

    Papa John Paul, pray for us!

  • DoverGuy

    He was our Holy Father for most of our lives (if you’re older than 9-10 years) and one of only seven or eight popes that many of us “older folks” have known in our lifetimes. When I think of the Papacy, it is the face of Pope St. John Paul II that I see in my mind. With all due respect to the popes who preceded him, and to Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, it is Pope St. John Paul II who has inspired my own yearning for a life lived with and fully in Christ. Holy Father, pray for us!

  • Marion Rejniak

    There are many more facts about Saint John Paul II. One can read it in the book “Saint John Paul the Great” His Five Loves by Jason Evert. Once you read it, you will understand why he is a Saint

  • Ana Casper

    The most big and sweet of our Saints.

  • Darren

    This gave me the shivers and put a smile on my face but, let us call him St. John Paul the Great. Pilgrams were chanting him to become a saint before he was buried.

  • Sue

    Although this is not about JPII, I think you’ll see the humor in this. With my encouragement, my older sister got an iPad. I pointed out some of my favorite blogs and even had her sign up to receive email notifications from you. Now, I get your email and my sis forwards her favorites of your entries to me. Seems that I am now doubly blessed!

  • YankeeTexan

    In what I can easily say was one of the most profound experiences of my entire life (meeting Pope John Paul II during an audience while stationed in Italy), Saint John Paul II had penetrating eyes but not in a fearful or intimidating way…like his eyes could see into your soul, humbling you without “humiliating” you, regardless of your station in Life.

  • Mary

    I was priveleged to see St JPII in the Dominican Republic.The entire population was attracted to him!He wrote and delivrered his address in Spanish.I knew he was a holy man.

    • Teeno

      Me, too, in the Philippines where 5 million or so gathered around him for the Holy Mass. I saw him from a distance but I cannot forget how he looks like. His face exudes joy and peace which pierced my being.

  • JM

    Pope St. John Paul the second was in the Polish military an actor and in any play knew his lines and the lines of everyone else was a well rounded athlete and the crest which he was told to change and never did has a large ( M ) on it due to his Marian devotion but also his losing his mother at the age of eight and yes he did have a connection to the Carmelite order and while being Pope how many saints became Saints not to mention writing several thousand pages of documents for the church and wrote a letter to the president of Russia telling him no certain terms to stay out of not to invade Poland stay out of not to invade Poland lastly had a great deal to do with the Berlin wall finally being removed


    “SEPTIC SHOCK”? Does this mean internal infection of some sort? A friend had peritonitis and the doctor said there was sepsis.

    • Natalia D.

      Septic shock is a serious condition that occurs when an overwhelming infection leads to life-threatening low blood pressure. And your friend had sepsis which was a result of the peritonitis that could of lead to a septic shock.

  • K.C.Thomas

    The humility of the two popes is something we shouldappreciate and follow.Also both came from very ordinary families. JOHN Paul worked as a labour and had had the determination to serve God. I am sorry to hear that he has no close relatives. The thought of two child norm by present generatoon should be abandoned A few more children may bring more joy.

  • Gemma

    Thank you St. John Paul for praying all the people on Earth , I saw you in Davao City personally.!

  • Tony Lee

    Card. Karol Wotyla of Poland was largely instrumental to have the Vatican’s approval to lift the temporary suspension of the Devotion of the Divine Mercy in April 1978. In October 1978 he was elected Pope John Paul II.

  • Bridget Lewis

    I had the privilarge of attending mass said by Saint John Paul in South Africa where he said parts of the service in Zulu and Sotho which are the two major languages of our indigenous peoples.

  • Rosalie Francisco

    Saint John Paul 11, thank you for your loving intercession in our immigrat application in Canada. Please continue pray for us! Amen.

  • Maria

    I’ve been listening to a free audio download about Pope John Paul II from Lighthouse Catholic Media by Father Michael Gaitley (not sure about spelling). He calls it the second greatest story ever told. It’s really good. One of the things he says in it is that he died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday… Divine Mercy Sunday vigil!
    I hope you can look the audio up on Lighthouse Catholic Media’s website. I’m not sure of the link. I though it was really good!

  • Lynda E Durcan

    st jp offical prayer

  • Julianna

    Dear Mr.Marshall,
    Once again I cannot log in. You gave me a new password 3 weeks ago and when I try to log in I get a blank white page.
    Please help for the last time !

    Thank you,


  • Pat Schwarz

    This is so interesting to read about St. Pope John Paul II. I can share another little known (I’m assuming) fact about him. He sent 3 personal messages to U.S. asking for the life of Terri Schiavo to be spared, with the restoration of food/hydration. I am not sure who received those personal messages, guessing the Governor, Medical Personnel in charge etc, Michael Schiavo? maybe, Terri’s parents. The Pope was enduring the last days of his own agony at that time, himself on a feeding tube. Terri Schiavo (starved and dehydrated to death in Pinella Park, Florida Hospice) died 3 days before St. John Paul II. I learned this from an interview on Catholic Radio, with Terri’s Spiritual Director, Father Thaddeus Molanowski. (spelling could be incorrect)

  • R_C

    He was referred to indirectly in the diary of St. Faustina Kowalska as the Pope from Poland who would establish on the First Sunday after Easter the Feast of Divine Mercy. Furthermore, he died on the Vigil of a Divine Mercy Sunday, and he was canonized on a Divine Mercy Sunday.

  • R_C

    He read at a young age the writings of St. Louis de Montfort and performed the total consecration to Jesus through Mary. He chose as his episcopal motto “Totus tuus”, which is the short formula of total consecration proposed by De Montfort: <>

  • Joanna Diata Gamboa

    he performed miracles that none of us had ever known. i attended the 1995 world youth day and seeing St. John Paul II feels like seeing God in person. I am truly blessed to have seen him. I love You St. John Paul II!

  • India Catalina

    Saint John Paul II learned Spanish in order to be able to read Saint John of the Cross in the original

  • I think my favrotie JPII story is how he found out he was being made a Bishop, he stopped at a carmelite monastary to pray prostrate before the Blessed Sacrament and then returned to the camping trip he was on with some families.

  • PapalSoldier

    Saint John PAUL II visited Uganda of all countries, and Gulu District in particular that left us with a blessing, We uphold him being a saint, PRAY FOR US

  • Connie

    In the early 1960s then auxiliary bishop of Krakow, Karol Wojtyla, as “an intermediary,” helped St. Florian’s Church get new church bells (theirs had been confiscated by the Nazis). The bells were a gift from the Archdiocese of Milan, whose Cardinal Montini became Pope Paul VI.

  • Krzysztof

    He had a sister

  • Mary Totonelly

    Pope St. John Paul lost his mother, brother and Father—his family, by the time he was 19 or 20.

    • poo

      he liked chicken

  • wadad

    it was obvious that he ie is a saint from his shiny divine face,when looking at him you feel the God’s picture on his face..we have already his photo framed in our house since 6 years.we loved him so much and now we pray for him in these troubled time we are passing through in my family that he blessed us especially my daughter Maria in her future.i beg you John paul 2 to hear me.Amen.

  • PurpleMommy

    In 1995 that he visited Philippines, he visited my school, University of Santo Tomas, I was a college student then… as the pope mobile passed fronting me and my mother, I found myself crying and in goosebumps, all I could remember telling him in my head was “pray for us.”

  • Ken

    He conspired to keep pedophile priests from justice, and assured that thousands of additional innocent children would be raped by these sick criminals by rubber-stamping their re-assignments to new, unsuspecting (thanks to the evil, and complicit silence of the Catholic cult) churches. Not only is he not a saint, it’s arguable whether the Holy Spirit had ever dwelled within him.

  • Pablo Chavarría


  • Dave

    Our Lady of medjugorje called him Her Most Blessed Son.

  • yuri

    Can I become a saint by kissing a (UN)holy book of another monotheistic religion? Or how about allowing buddah to be placed on top of a tabernacle at Assissi? Just another VII heretic pope. We are in an interregnum and have been since 1958. What does the third part of the secret really say? What about the part they “forgot” (lied to us) to tell us about the dogma of the faith in Portugal?