Significant Dates in the Life of Pope John Paul II

Karol Wojtyla - 1932/AP
Karol Wojtyla - 1932/AP
Archbishop of Krakow - 1968/AP
Archbishop of Krakow - 1968/AP
On Election as Pope - 1978/AP
On Election as Pope - 1978/AP
Assassination Attempt -1981/AP
Assassination Attempt -1981/AP
Meets Would Be Assassin - 1983/AP
Meets Would Be Assassin - 1983/AP
May 18, 1920:
Born near Krakow, Poland.

June 22, 1938:
Enrolls in the Faculty of Philosophy at Jagellonian University, Krakow.

February 1940:
Participates in the underground theatre directed by Tadeusz Kudlinski.

Nov. 1, 1940:
Gets a job as a stonecutter in Nazi-occupied Poland, avoiding deportation or imprisonment.

October 1942:
Begins clandestine studies for the priesthood in Krakow's underground seminary.

Nov. 1, 1946:
Ordained a priest.

Nov. 15, 1946:
Leaves Poland to continue his studies in Rome.

June 19, 1948:
Receives a doctorate in philosophy.

Dec. 16, 1948:
Earns a master's degree in theology.

Sept. 28, 1958:
Ordained bishop in the Cathedral of Wavel, Poland.

Dec. 30, 1963:
Designated Metropolitan Bishop of Krakow.

May 29, 1967:
Named a cardinal by Pope Paul VI.

Oct. 5, 1971:
Elected to the Council of the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops.

Sept. 19, 1975:
Visits East Germany.

Oct. 24, 1977:
At the Fourth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, he is elected to the Council of the Secretary General of the Synod.

Oct. 16, 1978:
Karol Wojtyla elected Pope following the death of his predecessor, John Paul I, after only 33 days in office. It's the first time the church is led by a Polish pope.

Jan. 25, 1979:
Pope John Paul makes the first of more than 100 foreign trips, visiting the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

March 14, 1979:
First encyclical, "Redemptor hominis," on the dignity of man.

June 2, 1979:
First visit to Poland as Pope. Tells Poles: "Do not be afraid," triggering start of mass resistance to communism.

June 7, 1979:
Prays at the Nazi extermination camp at Auschwitz, near his hometown of Krakow.

Oct. 2, 1979:
Addresses the United Nations in New York.

May 2, 1980:
First tour of Africa includes visits to Zaire, Congo, Kenya, Ghana, Upper Volta and Ivory Coast.

Nov. 30, 1980:
Second encyclical, "Dives in misericordia," on the mercy of God.

May 13, 1981:
Assassination attempt. Mehmed Ali Agca fires three shots at the Pope from close range, wounding him in the abdomen, the left hand and right arm.

May-June 1982:
Pastoral visits to Britain and Argentina during which he attempts to mediate in the conflict over the Falkland Islands.

March 4, 1983:
Jeered by supporters of the ruling Sandinista government during a visit to Nicaragua.

June 16, 1983:
Visits Poland for a second time, defying the regime's martial law.

Dec. 28, 1983:
Visits Mehmed Ali Agca in his prison cell in Rome.

July 7, 1984:
Denounces apartheid in South Africa.

Sept. 9, 1984:
The Pope begins a 12-day visit to Canada, the first of three trips he would make to this country. Bad weather forces him to cancel a visit to the Northwest Territories. He promises to return to Canada so he can make that part of the trip.

Nov. 17, 1985:
Sends a personal message to U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as the two men hold a summit meeting in Geneva.

April 13, 1986:
John Paul II makes an unexpected visit to Rome's main synagogue. It's the first ever by a pope to a synagogue. He prays with Rabbi Elio Toaff.

Oct. 27, 1986:
Attends first World Day for Peace – which he convened in Assisi – with 60 representatives of the main Christian and non-Christian religions.

Sept. 20, 1987:
The Pope visits Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories for five hours, fulfilling a promise he made three years earlier. He was on his way to the United States when he squeezed in the stop - 500 km south of the Arctic Circle.

Dec. 3, 1987:
Visit by Dimitrios, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

Dec. 30, 1987:
Encyclical "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis" (On Social Concerns) criticizes economic and political ideologies of both West and East.

Dec. 1, 1989:
Mikhail Gorbachev visits the Vatican, a first for a Soviet leader.

Jan. 15, 1991:
Pope writes letters to U.S. president George Bush and Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in attempt to avert the Gulf War.

July 12, 1992:
Undergoes an operation to remove a benign tumour of the intestine.

May 9, 1993:
Denounces the Mafia during a visit to Sicily.

Aug. 6, 1993:
Encyclical "Veritatis Splendor" (the Splendour of Truth) reaffirms the church's traditional views on morals and ethics.

Sept. 4, 1993:
Visits Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the Pope's first trip to the region since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Nov. 11, 1993:
Dislocates his right shoulder during a fall. His shoulder is immobilized for a month.

Dec. 30, 1993:
Signs a deal that establishes diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Israel.

April 28, 1994:
Fractures his right femur in a fall in his bathroom.

Oct. 25, 1994:
Beginning of working contacts of "permanent and official character" with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Jan. 11, 1995:
Visits Manila to celebrate 10th World Youth Day. Speaks to a crowd of four million, the largest crowd of his pontificate.

March 25, 1995:
Encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" (the Gospel of Life), which opposes contraception and euthanasia.

Oct. 7, 1996:
Undergoes an appendectomy.

June 5-17, 1999:
His fourth trip to Poland is a 13-day affair, marking his longest pastoral journey outside of Italy. But he's forced to cancel several engagements due to illness.

Feb. 24, 2000:
Visits Egypt as part of his Jubilee 2000 pilgrimage to the lands of the Bible.

March 12, 2000:
Makes an unprecedented public statement seeking forgiveness for the sins and faults committed or condoned by the church in the 2,000 years of its history.

March 20-26, 2000:
First visit to Israel, 36 years after Paul VI, as part of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, following the footsteps of Moses and Christ. At a moving ceremony at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem, and again at the Western Wall, he repeats his plea for forgiveness by the Jews of the sins committed by the church.

May 4-9, 2001:
Visits Greece and Syria, where, in Damascus, he becomes the first pope to enter a mosque in an Islamic country.

Jan. 24, 2002:
Convenes an inter-faith meeting in Assisi to pray for peace and to banish the spectre of terrorism and conflict.

July 23, 2002:
Arrives in Toronto for World Youth Day festivities. Despite his frail health, he is able to conduct several masses.

Aug 16-19, 2002:
Makes his eighth visit to his native Poland and promises to remain in office until his death.

April 17, 2003:
Publishes his 14th encyclical, "Ecclesia de Eucharistia" (The Church of the Eucharist), emphasizing the importance of the mass and the Eucharist, thus seeking to avoid any watering-down of Catholic belief.

June 5-9, 2003:
Visits Croatia, his 100th foreign trip.

Sept. 24, 2003:
Cancels a weekly audience due to stomach problems. Worries over his health mount, notably after he is unable to complete an address during a visit to Slovakia.

Sept. 30, 2003:
Austrian Cardinal Christof Schoenborn shatters the traditional church silence on papal health, saying in an interview the Pope is "dying."

Oct. 16, 2003:
Celebrates 25th anniversary of pontificate.

March 14, 2004:
Becomes the third longest-reigning pope in history.

June 5-6, 2004:
Defies health problems to visit Switzerland, the first time in eight months he has left Italy.

Aug 14-15, 2004:
Pilgrimage to the shrine at Lourdes in France for the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.

Feb. 1, 2005:
Is rushed to hospital with severe respiratory problems linked to the flu.

Feb. 10, 2005:
Released from hospital.

Feb. 24, 2005:
Returns to hospital after suffering from the same type of breathing difficulties that led to his first hospitalization. The Vatican confirms that the 84-year-old pontiff underwent a successful operation to ease his breathing difficulties.

Feb. 27, 2005:
Entrusts his Sunday Angelus blessing to an aide for the first time in his 26-year papacy. But in a surprise appearance at his hospital window, the Pope gives worshippers gathered outside a silent blessing. Pope John Paul II is breathing on his own but at doctors' instructions is not speaking after undergoing a tracheotomy.

March 1, 2005:
According to the Vatican, the Pope speaks during a working meeting in the hospital. The Pope is undergoing physiotherapy to help him breathe and speak. It is not clear how long he will be kept in hospital. His weakened health has fuelled debate over whether he will be able to carry on his duties, especially if he doesn't regain his ability to speak.

March 13, 2005:
Greets pilgrims from the hospital window in his first public speech since the surgery. Later in the day, the Pope returns to the Vatican from hospital.

March 16, 2005:
Makes a surprise appearance at an open window of his Vatican apartment in keeping with Wednesday tradition. He gives a silent blessing.

March 20, 2005:
Holy Week begins with a brief silent appearance by the Pope at his Vatican window. For the first time in 26 years, Pope John Paul II does not lead the Palm Sunday mass.

March 21, 2005:
Concerns over the Pope's health grow amid reports that he is not responding well to medication.

March 25, 2005:
Not in person, but the Pope makes an appearance at the Good Friday evening torch-lit Way of the Cross procession. The Pope is seen watching the service from the Vatican on large video screens set up at the Colosseum. His message is read by a cardinal.

March 27, 2005:
Appears at his window before a crowd gathered at St. Peter's Square for Easter Sunday and makes an attempt to speak. Much to the disappointment and sadness of the crowd, he cannot.

March 30, 2005:
A feeding tube in inserted to help the Pope's recovery by improving his food intake. The Vatican says the Pope continues to work.

March 31, 2005:
The Pope suffers a cardio-circulatory collapse.  Announcement that "Holy Father's health condition is very grave."

April 1, 2005:
Vatican spokesman says the pope is "coscious, lucid, and very serene."  Reports come in from Rome that cardinals are gathering in anticipation of a conclave.