Blessed John Paul II: A Look at the Stats


In celebration of the beatification of John Paul II last Sunday, we wanted to present some statistics of his extraordinary papacy, and details of some of the new memoirs that are available.

Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki, who was Karol Wojtyła’s 2nd personal secretary, has released a book about his everyday life with Pope John Paul II, called “He liked Tuesdays best” because, as it transpires, that was his day off!

The book is part of a flood of reflective texts and interviews on the Polish Pope coming to light after his beatification. Yesterday on Vatican Radio, Gary L. Krupp, of the Pave the Way foundation working for interreligious understanding, gave a moving testimony of the great work both this Pope and the Church has done with other religions, remembering his attendance of the Holy Father’s last major audience in January 2005. It is well worth listening to.

Looking at the numbers

All these reflections give us an opportunity to look at some of the measureable achievements of John Paul II’s pontificate. Although it does not do justice to all his work, nor does it give the full picture of a man who was a mystic as well as the most seen man in human history, it can give an idea of his apostolic zeal.

His pontificate lasted 9,965 days and included visiting 129 different countries, travelling 1,247,613 km or 750,000 miles, the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe more than 30 times, or travelling 3 times to the moon.

Many, including Jim Gallagher in the new CTS biography John Paul II – The Road to Sainthood, have commented that the Pope’s success as pastor of the universal Church, came from his understanding that he was still a priest and a bishop. He continued to dispense the Sacraments, baptising 1501 children during his pontificate and ordaining hundreds of priests and bishops. His teaching will shape the thought and life of the Catholic Church for centuries. This teaching covers a dozen linear feet of shelf space and includes 14 encyclicals, 15 Apostolic Exhortations, 12 Apostolic Constitutions and 45 Apostolic Letters.

He held 1,164 general audiences attended by 17,665,800 people. John Paul wanted to give those faithful examples – beyond the one he gave with his own life – of holiness. So he celebrated 1338 beatifications including 1032 martyrs, and canonised 482 saints including 402 martyrs.

When people criticised him for this, reminding him that he had proclaimed more people saint and blessed than any Pope before him, he replied that they should take their complaints to the Holy Spirit, since it was the third Person of the Holy Trinity at work and not John Paul II.

Yet he himself inspired countless numbers of people – as the one and a half million strong crowd at his beatification attested – showing them and the more sceptical world, how a radically converted Christian can change the course of history.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

John Paul II – The Road to Sainthood by Jim Gallagher is available from CTS at £2.95

Of related interest:

John Paul II: The Pope who Made History – A unique and monumental 5-DVD collection that chronologically follows Pope John Paul II’s life, including his childhood in Poland, his appointment as Pope, his most important foreign visits, and his last days.
John Paul II: His Life his Pontificate – his DVD contains two feature-length documentaries: His Life (30 mins) and His Pontificate (60 mins). They consider the two parts of John Paul’s life, before and after his election as Pope.
How Saints are Canonised – Through baptism, all Christians are called to be saints, and yet there are also ‘saints’ who are ‘canonised’ by the Church. This booklet gives an overview of the history and process of beatification and canonisation in the Catholic Church.

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