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Pope John Paul II in popular culture

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Title: Pope John Paul II in popular culture  
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Subject: Pope John Paul II, Dominicae Cenae, John Paul II High School in Tarnów, John Paul II Foundation, John Paul II High School (Greymouth)
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Pope John Paul II in popular culture

As one of the best known and well-travelled persons of the 20th century, there are many cultural references to Pope John Paul II (18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005), who 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, making his the second-longest pontificate after Pius IX's 31-year reign. In addition to his own extensive writings, many films, television programs, books, and journal articles have been written about John Paul II.


Films made about John Paul II include:

John Paul II at an open-air mass at Yankee Stadium, New York City 1979.

Books by and about John Paul II

In popular culture

  • In an episode of The Golden Girls, The Pope is coming to Miami and Sophia wants him to bless a friend of hers.
  • In 1986 Pope John Paul made a cameo appearance on television soap Brookside. While Bobby and Sheila Grant were visiting Rome, John Paul made an appearance at a window for the crowd, clearly being seen in the finished production.[6]
  • Pope John Paul II's visit to Cuba in 1998, the first one ever made by a Pope to this Caribbean island, was featured in Daína Chaviano's novel The Island of Eternal Love (Riverhead, 2008).
  • In his youth, John Paul II played ice hockey on the Skawa River during the winter months.[7]
  • John Paul II's apostolic motto was Totus Tuus ("totally yours"); and according to his Rosarium Virginis Mariae he borrowed the motto from the Marian consecrating prayer as found in "True Devotion to Mary" by Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort. The complete text of the prayer in Latin is: "Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt" ("I am all Yours, and all that I have belongs to You"). Furthermore, he singled out Saint Louis de Montfort as a key example of Marian spirituality in his Redemptoris Mater encyclical, and in an address to the Montfortian Fathers said that reading one of de Montfort's books had been a "decisive turning point" in his life.[8][9]
  • John Paul II was the only Pope of the twentieth century to have a letter (the letter 'M' for Mary in a Marian Cross) in his coat of arms. [Pius VII] (1800-1823) also had letters in his coat of arms, forming the word PAX (peace).
  • A new form of the Stations of the Cross, called the Scriptural Way of the Cross which calls for more meditation was introduced by Pope John Paul II on Good Friday 1991. He celebrated that thereafter at the Colosseum.[10][11]
  • The Pope was named Time Magazine’s Person of the year in 1994.
  • According to a New York Post article of 19 February 2002, John Paul II personally performed three exorcisms during his tenure as pope. The first exorcism was performed on a woman in 1982. His second was in September 2000 when he performed the rite on a 19-year-old woman who had become enraged in St Peter's Square. A year later, in September 2001, he performed an exorcism on a 20-year-old woman.
  • The John Paul II International Airport (IATA: KRK), in Balice, Poland, near Kraków where he served as Archbishop before being elected Pope, was named in his honor.
  • In 2004 he received an extraordinary Charlemagne Award of the city of Aachen, Germany.
  • The Harlem Globetrotters visited Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in November 2000 and named the Pontiff an Honorary Harlem Globetrotter.
  • The action-thriller novel, Red Rabbit (2002) by Tom Clancy, detailed a fictional KGB attempt to assassinate a newly elected Polish Pope, who, though only mentioned by the name "Karol", is obviously supposed to be John Paul II.
  • On 23 March 1999, John Paul II released his debut CD "Abbà Pater".
  • John Paul II has been featured on at least seven popular albums in his native Poland. Most notably singer/songwriter Stanisław Sojka's 2003 album, "Jan Pawel II -- Tryptyk Rzymski", a ten-track collection of the Pope's poems set to music, reached No. 1.[12]
  • In 2003, his death was incorrectly announced by CNN when his pre-written obituary (along with those of several other famous figures) was inadvertently published on CNN's web site due to a lapse in password protection.
  • In 2004 John Paul II met members of the Polish National Football Team. It was at this time he told Liverpool Goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek that he was a keen fan of his and followed Liverpool whenever they played. Dudek, who had the honour of presenting the Pope with a souvenir goalkeeper shirt, would later dedicate Liverpool's Champions League success to the late pontiff.
  • John Paul II is considered as the "protector" of Fluminense Football Club among supporters of this traditional Brazilian football team. One of the team's most famous chants is "A Bênção, João de Deus" ("Bless us, John of God"), a song that was composed in honour of the Pope John Paul II on his first visit to Brazil in 1980. The tradition is that Fluminense fans spontaneously started singing the famous song when the team was to decide the 1980 state championship on a penalty shootout against their arch-rivals Vasco da Gama. Fluminense won the championship.
  • John Paul II is the eighth most admired person by U.S. citizens in the 20th century, according to Gallup.
  • John Paul II was an avid football player in his youth and later became an honorary member of FC Barcelona, BV Borussia Dortmund, and Schalke 04. He was a goalkeeper.
  • His favorite football team had always been Cracovia, whose games he attended while living in Kraków.
  • In 2006 a white hybrid tea rose was named "Pope John Paul II" in his honour, with a percentage of sales going to charity. Ten of the rose bushes were planted in the Vatican gardens.[13][14]
  • Polish Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica drives in a helmet with the "Jan Pawel II" inscription.
  • John Paul II sent the first papal e-mail in 2001.[15]
  • Solar eclipses took place both on the day he was born and the day of his funeral 9:22pm.[16]
  • In 2004, Ferrari made a special F1 car for the pope to celebrate his 26th anniversary as the pontiff.
  • John Paul II is the only Pope that appears as a main character in an animation feature.[17]
  • Comic book biographies of Pope John Paul II were published by Marvel Comics in January 1983[18] and by NBM Publishing in October 2006.[19]
  • John Paul II, when meeting Bono and Bob Geldof during their visit famously asked to try on Bono's trademark Fly sunglasses.
  • In 1988, when the Pope delivered a speech to the European Parliament, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Ian Paisley, shouted "I denounce you as the antichrist!" and held up a poster reading "POPE JOHN PAUL II ANTICHRIST". The Pope continued with his address after Paisley was ejected from the auditorium, primarily by then 77-year-old Otto von Habsburg, former crown prince of Austria-Hungary and a well-known and devout Catholic, with Habsburg snatching Paisley's banner, punching him in the face and, along with other MEPs, pushing him out of the chamber. [20][21][22][23]
  • A popular story in chess circles states that a certain Karol Wojtyla had published a chess problem in 1946. Although the young Wojtyla was indeed an accomplished chess player, the story of this publication appears to be a hoax whose roots were uncovered by Tomasz Lissowski.[24]
  • John Paul II is referred to in the song "Never Let Me Down" by Kanye West and Jay-Z on the album The College Dropout.
  • John Paul McQueen is named after the pope in fictional soap Hollyoaks; they also share the same birthday.


  1. ^
  2. ^ FaithStreams Communities, Our Television Programs
  3. ^ CBS
  4. ^ Pope John Paul II (2005) (TV)
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ Pope John Paul II on Saint Louis de Montfort
  9. ^ Pope John Paul II's encyclical Redemptoris Mater
  10. ^ Joseph M Champlin, The Stations of the Cross With Pope John Paul II Liguori Publications, 1994, ISBN 0-89243-679-4
  11. ^ Vatican Description of the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum
  12. ^ "Pope rocks Polish pop music charts", MSNBC News, 14 May 2005 (accessed 11 June 2005).
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ BBC, "Pope sends first e-mail apology", 23 November 2001. Retrieved on 4 March 2007.
  16. ^ The solar eclipse on May 18, 1920 5:22-5:33 and on April 8, 2005 on NASA web site.
  17. ^
  18. ^ #1 (January 1983)The Life of Pope John Paul II at the Grand Comics Database
  19. ^ (October 2006)The Life of Pope John Paul II ... In Comics! at the Grand Comics Database
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ HEADLINERS; Papal Audience
  24. ^
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