This Sunday marks the 18th anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. The pontiff died in the Vatican on Holy Sunday of Mercy – April 2, 2005, at 9:37 PM. He was 84 years old. He was known as the Pope of the Family.
Pope John Paul II’s papacy lasted for 26 years, 5 months, and 16 days. It was the third longest in history, following St. Peter and Pope Pius IX.
Elected during the conclave on 16 October 1978, Karol Wojtyla became the 264th Pope in history, at the same time being the first successor to St Peter in 455 years who was not Italian, and the first Slav to hold the post.
The election of Karol Wojtyla as Pope was considered particularly fitting given his many years of experience as a lecturer, scientist, philosopher, publicist, author of books, bishop of a historic diocese, and active participation in the Second Vatican Council. Karol Wojtyla’s youth was marked by theatre and poetry, and as Pope, he remained faithful to these interests.
The news of the Pope’s death was announced to the 100,000 praying people by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, saying: “Dearest brothers and sisters, at 9.37 p.m. our most beloved Holy Father John Paul II returned to the House of the Father”.
At the bedside of the deceased in the papal flats were the Holy Father’s closest collaborators, including the Pope’s personal secretary Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, Father Professor Tadeusz Styczeń, his student from the Catholic University of Lublin, Monsignor Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki (now Archbishop of Lviv) and the Heart Sisters who cared for John Paul II on a daily basis.
In Poland, the Pope’s departure was accompanied by the sound of the Sigismund Bell at Wawel. On 16 October 1978, he announced the election of Karol Wojtyla to the See of Peter; on 2 April 2005, he bid farewell to the Polish Pope.