Pope John Paul II, born Karol Jozef Wojtyla, was pope of the Catholic Church from 16th October 1978 until his death on the 2nd April 2005. He was the second longest-serving pope in modern history after Pope Pius IX and the first non-Italian pope since the Dutch Pope Adrian VI.
Karol Józef Wojtyła was born on the 18th May 1920 in Wadowice, near Krakow, in southern Poland.
By the time Karol Wojtyla became Pope he could speak nine languages fluently: Polish, Latin, Ancient Greek, Italian, French, German, English, Spanish and Portuguese.
Pope John Paul II is recognised by many as helping to end Communist rule in Poland.
Related: Pope John Paul’s visits to Gniezno in 1979 and 1997.