Catholic church leaders paid tribute to Saint Pope John Paul II on Thursday, his Feast Day.

pope john paull ii - St. Pope John Paul II’s feast day celebrated
Pope John Paul II (Vatican News)

In a Facebook post, Tagbilaran Bishop Alberto Uy remembered John Paul II as a “great pope” and a “great saint.”

Other church leaders also shared their memory of the beloved saint.

Pasig Bishop Mylo Vergara posted a picture of his encounter with the pontiff when he was still a young priest.

“Blessed to hold the hand of St. John Paul II when I was still a young priest. He was also the one who appointed me as bishop in 2005 before he died that same year,” he said in his Facebook page.

Father Aris Sison from the Diocese of Cubao also shared photos of his encounter with the then pope.

“I remember with gratitude these encounters with the Holy Father who is now a saint. Pray for us and bless us from heaven, St. John Paul II!” he said.

Karol Józef Wojtyła was born on May 18, 1920, in Wadowice, Poland. He was ordained in 1946, became the bishop of Ombi in 1958, and became the archbishop of Krakow in 1964. He was made a cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1967, and in 1978 became the first non-Italian Pope in more than 400 years. He was a vocal advocate for human rights and used his influence to effect political change. He was Pope for 27 years from 1978 to 2005 making him the second longest-serving Pope in modern history after Pope Pius IX.

Pope John Paul II is the most widely traveled Pope in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate. He visited the Philippines twice—in February 1981, when he beatified the first Filipino martyr, Lorenzo Ruiz, and in January 1995, when an estimated  4 million Filipinos attended the Mass he celebrated at the close of World Youth Day which was considered to be the largest single gathering in Christian history.

He died at the age of 84 at the Vatican on April 2, 2005, the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday. He was beatified on May 1, 2011 (Divine Mercy Sunday) in Saint Peter’s Square by Pope Benedict XVI, his immediate successor and was canonized on April 27, 2014 (again Divine Mercy Sunday), together with Pope John XXIII.

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