In his 26 years as Holy Father, he was said to be the most recognized person in the world. he was the most traveled pope in the 2000 year history of the Church, visiting both Mexico and the United States multiple times, and was the first non Italian chosen as pope in 456 years.
When he was chosen to lead the Roman Catholic Church in 1978, he was only 58 years old, the youngest pope ever elected by the College of Cardinals.
And throughout, he was a pope who walked and talked amidthe people, and in his last days, as frail as he was, made it a point to wave to the Catholic faithful from his window above St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.
In his youth, in Poland, he was a soccer goalie and a daredevil who swam in dangerous rivers. He was also an excellent student and developed a love of theater.
He was fearless as a pope, not only when it came to preserving strict disciplines of the Church, but to his own physical well being. He survived an assassination attemtp and came back strong both menthally and physically.
He was steadfast: In 1989 he traveled to the Soviet Union and stepped up reestablishment of Church hierarchy throughout the East Bloc.
Possibly he was busiest in 1990. He flew to Czechoslovakia to hail the collapse of communism. Later that year he ruled out marriage in the priesthood.
In 1992 he issued the Roman Catholic Church's new universal Catechism, the first in nearly five centuries. In 1997 he said Christians failed during the Holocaust and in 2000 he asked pardon for Church's past sins, incluiding those against Jews, heretics, women, and minorities.
Of late, in 2002, he issued the first changes to the praying of the rosary in 500 hundred years, and in 2004 he condemned same sex marriage and called it an attack on the fabric of society.
Critics point out Pope John Paul II shied away from involvment in the AIDs epidemic, especially in Africa, and that his 2001 apollogy to victims of sexual abuse by priests and other cleregy was not strong enoug.
As a person said to have lived the way Christ would have lived in these times, he showed a strong ability to absorb physical pain and suffering. From the assasination attemtp in 1981 by a Turkish gunman he later publicy forgave , to his slow death, he was an example of a man suffering nobly to not only Roman Catholics but to all peoples in the world.
Pope John Paul II touched millions of those lives. And his imprint as a good Pope will go down forever in history.