St. Petersburg Times Special report
04OAXACA   POPE JOHN PAUL II: In touch with his flock

The most traveled pope in history was driven to make personal contact. He described his trips as "authentic pilgrimages to the sanctuary of living people of God."

JAN. 29, 1979, CUILAPAM, MEXICO: The pope hugs an Indian girl while visiting a village near Oaxaco.

[AP photo]


The pope was born Karol Jozef Wojtyla on May 18, 1920. He was affectionately called "Lolek" by his mother. He grew up much of his life in Wadowice, Poland. At right, he poses after making his First Communion in his home diocese of Krakow.

[AP photo]

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OFFICIALLY THE POPE: Born Karol Wojtyla, he became Pope John Paul II on Oct. 16, 1978, at St. Peter’s Basilica. At age 58, he was the first non-Italian pope in 455 years and succeeded Pope John Paul I. He is shown at his Oct. 22, 1978, installation ceremony.

[AP photo 1978]

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ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT: The pope is held by aides after being shot twice by a Turk named Mehmet Ali Agca,on May 13, 1981, in St. Peter’s Square. The pope later visited Agca in his prison cell and forgave him.

[AP photo 1981]

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BELIEFS: The pope was theologically conservative but had progressive social views.

[AP photo 1983]

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FRIENDS: Mother Teresa, who died in 1997, always held a special place in the pope’s heart. They smile from the “popemobile” in Calcutta, India.

[AP photo 1986]

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OCT. 9, 1988, PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD: John Paul II visited so many countries in his years as pope that it was rare to see him kiss the ground -- a symbolic gesture done only when he made his first visit to a country.

[AP photo]

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JULY 15, 1989, ITALIAN ALPS: John Paul II, once an avid skier and mountain climber, suffered from symptoms of Parkinson’s disease in his final years: His hands trembled, his speech was slurred and he had difficulty walking. But he continued traveling and kept an active schedule.

[AP photo]

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JAN. 21, 1998, CUBA: The most tangible result of the pope's visit to Cuba was President Fidel Castro’s decision to allow Cubans to celebrate Christmas.

[Times files]

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JAN. 24, 1999, MEXICO CITY: After being wounded in 1981 in an assassination attempt, the pope took to traveling in a vehicle dubbed the "popemobile." Above, he is welcomed by thousands before celebrating Mass at the Autodome.

[AP photo]

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FEB. 26, 2000, MOUNT SINAI: John Paul II started to follow his millennium wish when he traveled to Mount Sinai to walk in the footsteps of Moses in the place where God is said to have given him the Ten Commandments.

[AP photo]

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THE HOLY LAND: The pope ends his first trip to Jerusalem’s Old City at Judaism’s most sacred site, the Western Wall. He pleaded for God’s forgiveness for centuries of Catholic torment of the Jewish people.

[AP photo 2000]

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MAY 4, 2001, ATHENS, GREECE: The delegation from the Greek Orthodox Church applauds as the pope offers a statement of regret for "sins of action and omission" against the Christian Orthodox. It was the first time in nearly 1,300 years that a leader of the Roman Catholic Church had visited Greece.

[AP photo]

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Related links:

The Vatican

John Paul II

The pope's travels

From AP:

A special interactive look at the Pope, with key dates

Photo gallery

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