This Day in History: April 2
- Published: Apr 2, 2016, 4 AM
Pope John Paul II served for 26 years, the second longest documented papal term.
His service at the top spot in the Catholic Church ended when died April 2, 2005.
Born Karol Józef Wojtyla in Poland, he was elected as pope in 1978. He was the first non-Italian pope in more than 400 years.
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His legacy extends back beyond 1978, and includes helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. As pope, his work included bridging the gap to other faiths and traveling extensively around the world in the name of the church.
In 2000, the United States Congress authorized a congressional gold medal for Pope John Paul II, in recognition of his many enduring contributions to peace and religious understanding.
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The obverse design features a smiling portrait of Pope John Paul II wearing the papal vestments and includes the inscription HIS HOLINESS POPE JOHN PAUL II. The reverse design features the Great Seal of the United States with the inscription BY ACT OF THE U.S. CONGRESS 2000.
Bronze duplicates of the medal remain available from the United States Mint at present.
Numerous other numismatic commemorations are also available honoring the late pope.
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