Pope St. John Paul II’s ability to show his human side, while exhibiting truly great faith and holiness, demonstrated to the world the normality of living “in profound communion with Christ,” Pope Francis said.
His comments were delivered to Father Luigi Maria Epicoco, author of the Italian book “San Giovanni Paolo Magno” (“St. John Paul the Great”), a posthumous title for the pope who headed the Catholic Church from from 1978 to 2005.
The book, to be released later this month, marks the centennial of St. John Paul’s birth on May 18, 1920.
While the book largely focuses on the life of the second-longest serving pope in modern history, each chapter includes commentary from Pope Francis on his relationship with Pope St. John Paul. Pope Francis’ reflections on the late pope’s life, spirituality, personality, and teachings are also included.
Father Epicoco said he spoke with Pope Francis on a number of occasions between June 2019 and January to obtain material for the book.
The first non-Italian pope in 455 years and the first from a Slavic country (Poland), Pope St. John Paul II was known as “the people’s pope,” as he focused on issues outside the traditional purview of the Church.
He regularly championed the marginalized, including the poor and refugees, and spoke on issues ranging from income inequality, corruption and the environment.
Some have argued that Pope St. John Paul II “will go down in history as the most important world leader in the second half of the 20th century,” campaigning against political oppression and helping bring an end to the Cold War via his support for Poland’s Solidarity movement.
As part of his “universal call to holiness”, he also canonized 483 people — more than the combined total for the preceding five centuries.
Pope St. John Paul II died on April 2, 2005 and was declared a saint on was April 27, 2014.