A Tale of Two Saints: Popes John Paul II & John XXIII

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By Vittorio Hernandez | April 27, 2014 5:01 PM EST

A cardboard depicting Pope John XXIII is carried through Catholic faithfuls as they wait for a canonisation ceremony to start in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 27, 2014. Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernising Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II, who reigned for nearly 27 years before his death in 2005 and whose trips around the world made him the most visible pope in history, will be declared saints by Pope Francis at an unprecedented twin canonisation on Sunday. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION)
A cardboard depicting Pope John XXIII is carried through Catholic faithfuls as they wait for a canonisation ceremony to start in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 27, 2014. Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernising Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II, who reigned for nearly 27 years before his death in 2005 and whose trips around the world made him the most visible pope in history, will be declared saints by Pope Francis at an unprecedented twin canonisation on Sunday. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION)

All eyes on Sunday are on two holy men who led the Roman Catholic Church as pontiffs, ushering the 2,000-year-old church into the modern times. Besides both serving as leaders and being well-loved by the faithful, the two men are actually studies in contrast.

Pope John Paul II

 

Pope John XXII

Karol Jozef Wojtyla

Birth name

Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli

May 18, 1920

Date of Birth

November 25, 1881

Polish

Nationality

Italian

November 1, 1946

Ordination

August 10, 1904

October 16, 1978 to April 2, 2005 (26 years)

Papacy

October 28, 1958 to June 3, 1963 (4 years)

Totus Tuus (Totally yours)

Motto

Obedentia et Pax (Obedience and Peace)

May 1, 2011 (6 years after death)

Beatification

September 3, 2000 (37 years after death)

Worked as volunteer librarian, required to participate in compulsory military training, performed with theatrical groups and worked as playwright

Other jobs besides priesthood

While a chaplain, was drafted during World War I into the Royal Italian Army as sergeant, served in medical corps as stretcher-bearer

14 encyclicals - Veritatis Splendor, Fides et Ratio, Centisimus Annus, Evangelium Vitae, Dives in Misericordia

Famous Encyclicals

Pacem in Terris

Helped end Communist rule in Poland, improved relations with other Christian churches

Other accomplishments

Called for historic Second Vatican Council

The great

Known as

The good pope

Died of profound hypotension and complete circulatory collapse at age 84

Death

Died of peritonitis at age of 81

A Catholic faithful raises an image of Pope John Paul II through the crowds waiting to attend the canonisation ceremony of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 27, 2014. Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernising Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II, who reigned for nearly 27 years before his death in 2005 and whose trips around the world made him the most visible pope in history, will be declared saints by Pope Francis at an unprecedented twin canonisation on Sunday. REUTERS/Remo Casilli (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION)
A Catholic faithful raises an image of Pope John Paul II through the crowds waiting to attend the canonisation ceremony of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 27, 2014. Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernising Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II, who reigned for nearly 27 years before his death in 2005 and whose trips around the world made him the most visible pope in history, will be declared saints by Pope Francis at an unprecedented twin canonisation on Sunday. REUTERS/Remo Casilli (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION)

Besides being priests and pontiffs, the two new saints who were canonised on April 27, 2014, one week after Easter Sunday, also served in the military in different roles.

The long term of Pope John Paul II - the second longest-serving pope - allowed him to do more, ranging from writing more encyclicals, to travelling to 129 nations and beatifying 1,340 people and canonising 483 saints.

In contrast, since Pope John XXIII became head of the Catholic Church 20 years earlier than Pope John Paul II, he nevertheless played a vital role in the church's history by calling for the Second Vatican Council which opened the door to modernisation of the church.

However, despite their differences, the two great popes shared a common destiny of becoming saints on the same day and inspiring millions of Catholics to become better followers of Christ.

Read also: Crucifix Dedicated to Pope John Paul II Crashes to Death Italian Man Posing for Souvenir Photo

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(Photo: Reuters / )
A cardboard depicting Pope John XXIII is carried through Catholic faithfuls as they wait for a canonisation ceremony to start in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 27, 2014. Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernising Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II, who reigned for nearly 27 years before his death in 2005 and whose trips around the world made him the most visible pope in history, will be declared saints by Pope Francis at an unprecedented twin canonisation on Sunday. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION)
(Photo: Reuters / )
A Catholic faithful raises an image of Pope John Paul II through the crowds waiting to attend the canonisation ceremony of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 27, 2014. Pope John XXIII, who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the modernising Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II, who reigned for nearly 27 years before his death in 2005 and whose trips around the world made him the most visible pope in history, will be declared saints by Pope Francis at an unprecedented twin canonisation on Sunday. REUTERS/Remo Casilli (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION)
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