John Paul II was the second longest-serving pope in modern history after Pope Pius IX, who served for nearly 32 years from 1846 to 1878.
Born in Poland, John Paul II was the first non-Italian pope since the Dutch Pope Adrian VI, who served from 1522 to 1523.
The future pope refused, claiming that the child should be raised in the Jewish faith of his birth parents and nation, not as a Catholic.
In September 2003, Emmanuelle Pacifici, the head of Italy's Jewish community, proposed that John Paul II receive the medal of a Righteous Among the Nations for saving a two-year-old Jewish boy by giving him to a Gentile Polish family to be hidden in 1942, when Karol Wojtyła was just a seminarian.
"I remember that at least a third of my classmates at elementary school in Wadowice were Jews. He became close to a girl called Ginka Beer, described as "a Jewish beauty, with stupendous eyes and jet black hair, slender, a superb actress." In mid-1938, Wojtyła and his father left Wadowice and moved to Kraków, where he enrolled at the Jagiellonian University.
While studying such topics as philology and various languages, he worked as a volunteer librarian and was required to participate in compulsory military training in the Academic Legion, but he refused to fire a weapon.
His elder sister Olga had died before his birth, but he was close to his brother Edmund, nicknamed Mundek, who was 13 years his senior.
Edmund's work as a physician eventually led to his death from scarlet fever, a loss that affected Wojtyła deeply. And what struck me about some of them was their Polish patriotism." It was around this time that the young Karol had his first serious relationship with a girl.
After the war, Karol Wojtyła did everything he could to ensure that this Jewish boy he saved leave Poland to be raised by his Jewish relatives in the United States.During the Nazi occupation of Poland, a Jewish family sent its son, Stanley Berger, to be hidden by a Gentile Polish family.Berger's biological Jewish parents died during the Holocaust, and after the war Berger's new Christian parents asked a young Polish priest named Karol Wojtyła, the future Pope John Paul II, to baptise the boy.He performed with various theatrical groups and worked as a playwright.
During this time, his talent for language blossomed, and he learned as many as 12 languages — Polish, Latin, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, German, Ukrainian, Serbo-Croatian, Slovak and Esperanto, Able-bodied males were required to work, so from 1940 to 1944 Wojtyła variously worked as a messenger for a restaurant, a manual labourer in a limestone quarry and for the Solvay chemical factory, to avoid deportation to Germany.
John Paul II's cause for canonisation commenced in 2005 one month after his death with the traditional five-year waiting period waived.