St. John Paul II, (born May 18, 1920, Wadowice, Poland—died April 2, 2005, Vatican City; beatified May 1, 2011; canonized April 27, 2014; feast day October 22), bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church (1978–2005), the first non-Italian pope in 455 years and the first from a Slavic country. His pontificate of more than 26 years was the third longest in history.
Of all the Catholic saints and theologians who have written about the merciful love of God, none has done so with more public and universal impact than Pope John Paul II. Listing all the things that John Paul II did confirms and strengthens the Divine Mercy message and devotion, and leaves one without any doubt that "The mystery of God's merciful love was at the centre of the pontificate of my venerated predecessor" (Pope Benedict XVI, Regina Caeli address, April 23, 2006). In 1981 Pope John Paul II wrote an entire encyclical dedicated to The Divine Mercy entitled Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy), illustrating that the heart of the mission of Jesus Christ was to reveal the merciful love of the Father. In 1993 he beatified Sister Faustina, stating in his homily: "Her mission continues and is yielding astonishing fruit. It is truly marvellous how her devotion to the merciful Jesus is spreading in our contemporary world, and gaining so many human hearts!" In 1997 he visited Bl. Faustina's tomb in Lagiewniki, Poland, and proclaimed: "There is nothing that man needs more than Divine Mercy.... From here went out the message of Mercy that Christ Himself chose to pass on to our generation through Bl. Faustina." In 2000 he canonized Sr. Faustina - making her the first canonized saint of the new millennium - and established "Divine Mercy Sunday" as a special title for the Octave Sunday of Easter for the universal Church.