Born in humble circumstances in Poland on May 18, 1920, Karol Wojtyla survived the occupations of his native land first by the National Socialists of Adolph Hitler’s National Socialist Workers Party (NAZI), immediately followed by the International Socialists of Joseph Stalin’s Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).

He secretly became an ordained Catholic priest in clandestine seminary training forbidden under the iron totalitarianism imposed on Poland by its socialist occupiers. He went on to become Pope John II in 1978, His first words to the people of the world as Pope were: “Be Not Afraid.”

He helped bring down soviet socialism in Poland and Europe working in unpublicized combination with America’s President Ronald Reagan and England’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, to support the Christians of the Polish Solidarity Movement who opposed the tyranny of Marxist secular socialism.

When he returned home to Poland for the first time as Pope, more than 1-million Poles gathered to hear him openly celebrate Mass. In America, hundreds of thousands came to hear him and be in his presence. He had the ability to make every one of the millions feel he was speaking to, touching, and blessing, them.

His serene smile touched the hearts of literally billions across the world, communicating a love, hope, and charity beyond the power of words to express, and transcending all barriers of language, cultural, racial, ethnic, or creedal differences.

As George Weigel summarized in this magisterial two-volume biography, Witness To Hope and John Paul II–the Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy: “He taught us how to live; and he taught us how to die.” Read also the tribute to him on the anniversary of his birth by Christian author William J. Federer at

Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, John Paul The Great, St. John Paul II, was the greatest man of our era — the greatest inspirer of real hope, change, and courage by standing for life and faith, and against tyranny,

May the God he served so faithfully always keep him; may the people he served so well never forget him.

And may we “be not afraid” to stand with and like him for life, and against tyranny, as did he, and as did our Founding Fathers of America. 

Rees Lloyd is a civil rights attorney, Veterans activist, and is a member of the Blogforce.