Pope John Paul II: The First Polish Pope

On October 16, 1978, at age 58, he succeeded Pope John Paul I, fulfilling a prophecy made to him decades earlier by Padre Pio that he would one day be pope. There was also another part to the prediction. The monk also predicted that Wojtyła's reign would be short and end in blood, a prophecy that almost came true on May 13, 1981, when he was shot and nearly killed by Mehmet Ali Agca, a Turkish Muslim gunman, as he entered St. Peter's Square to address a general audience. But far from having a short reign, John Paul II became one of the longest-reigning popes in history.

Documents released in 2005 prove that the assassination was ordered by the Soviet Union. Two days after Christmas in 1983, John Paul went to the prison and met with his would-be assassin. The two spoke privately for a time, and the conversation between the two men remains secret to this day.

The documents state that KGB operatives in conjunction with the East German State Police (Stasi) handed off the assassination to Bulgarian operatives in Rome. The Bulgarians subsequently subcontracted the assassination to radical Turkish groups.

Like his predecessor, John Paul II opted to simplify his office to make it a less regal institution. He chose not to use the Royal Plural, referring to himself as "I" instead of "We." John Paul also opted for a simple inauguration ceremony instead of the formal papal coronation, and he has not worn the Papal Tiara during his term in office. This was done to emphasize the servant role that is expressed in the title Servus Servorum Dei (Servant of the Servants of God).

Source: http://www.wikipedia.org contributed to this report

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