John Paul II, (18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005), reigned as the 264th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church and Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City from 16 October 1978, until his death, almost 27 years later. His was the second-longest pontificate after Pius IX’s 32-year reign. He has been the only Polish pope, and was the first non-Italian pope since the Dutch Adrian VI in the 1520s.
John Paul II was Pope during a period in which the Catholic Church’s influence declined in developed countries but expanded in the Third World. During his reign, the pope traveled extensively, visiting over 100 countries, more than any of his predecessors. He remains one of the most-traveled world leaders in history. He was fluent in numerous languages: his native Polish and also Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Croatian, Portuguese, Russian and Latin. As part of his special emphasis on the universal call to holiness, he canonized a great number of people.
He beatified 1,340 people , more people than any previous pope. The Vatican asserts he canonized more people than the combined tally of his predecessors during the last five centuries, and from a far greater variety of cultures. Whether he had canonized more saints than all previous popes put together, as is sometimes also claimed, is difficult to prove, as the records of many early canonizations are incomplete, missing, or inaccurate. However, it is known that his abolition of the office of Promotor Fidei (“Promoter of the Faith” and the origin of the term Devil’s advocate) streamlined the process.