April 26, 2014 / 11:11 AM / 5 years ago

Timeline: Key dates in the life of Pope John Paul II

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul II, who died in 2005 after a pontificate of nearly 27 years, will be elevated to sainthood in the Roman Catholic Church on Sunday by Pope Francis. Here are some major events in his life.

A John Paul II picture with Polish flag is seen in St. Peter's square at the Vatican, April 26, 2014. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

- May 18, 1920: Born Karol Jozef Wojtyla, in Wadowice, Poland, second son of retired Polish army sergeant and mother of Lithuanian origin.

- 1942: After losing all members of his immediate family, he decides to become a priest and studies secretly for ordination during Nazi occupation.

- Nov 1, 1946: Ordained in Krakow. Later completes studies in Rome, returns to Poland.

- Sept 28, 1958: Consecrated assistant Bishop of Krakow.

- Jan 13, 1964: Named Archbishop of Krakow.

- June 26, 1967: Created cardinal by Pope Paul VI.

- Oct 16, 1978: Elected first non-Italian Pope in 455 years.

- June 2-10, 1979: Returns to communist-ruled homeland, trip seen as factor in rise of Solidarity movement and fall of communism in the East Bloc 10 years later.

- May 13, 1981: Shot by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca in St Peter’s Square; saved by surgery.

- May 12, 1982: Rebel Spanish priest Juan Fernandez Krohn tries to stab him in Fatima, Portugal.

- April 13, 1986: Visits Rome’s synagogue, the first visit by a pope to a Jewish temple since the times of the apostles, calls Jews “Our beloved elder brothers”.

- Dec 1, 1989: Receives Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at the Vatican. This paves the way for re-establishment of Church hierarchy in Eastern bloc.

- April 21, 1990: Visits Czechoslovakia to hail the collapse of communism with President Vaclav Havel.

- July 15, 1992: Undergoes major surgery to remove intestinal tumor.

- Oct 31, 1992: After 359 years, Pope rehabilitates Galileo, condemned by Church for saying Earth turns around the Sun.

- Dec 28, 1993: Vatican and Israel agree to form full diplomatic ties.

- April 28, 1994: Slips in bath and breaks thigh bone.

- Oct 17, 1994: Becomes best-selling author with publication of Crossing the Threshold of Faith.

- Jan 1, 2000: Opens Holy Door of St Peter’s Basilica to usher in Christianity’s third millennium.

- March 13, 2000: Asks pardon for Church’s past sins, including against Jews, heretics, women and minorities.

- March 20-26, 2000: Visits Holy Land, including holy sites in Israel and Palestinian territories. At Jerusalem’s Western Wall, he leaves a note asking God for forgiveness for wrongs done to the Jewish people over the centuries.

- May 8, 2001: In Syria, becomes first Pope to enter a mosque.

- Nov 22, 2001: Apologizes to victims of sexual abuse by priests and other clergy.

- January-March, 2003: Leads international church campaign to avert war in Iraq.

- Oct 19, 2003: Beatifies Mother Teresa before a crowd of 300,000.

- Feb 1, 2005: Taken to hospital in Rome with acute respiratory infection, stays for 10 days. He returns to the hospital in March to undergo a tracheotomy to help him breathe. In late March his health deteriorates rapidly but he refuses to return to hospital.

April 2, 2005: Pope dies in the Vatican. His last words are “Allow me to return to the house of the father”.

April 8, 2005: His funeral is one of the biggest events ever in Rome and believed to be the largest gathering of heads of state and government in history.

Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Stephen Powell

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