22 October 2020
Saint Pope John Paul II Birth Centenary
Date Of Issue: 22 Oct 2020
Designer: Miguel Farrugia
Perforation: 13.9 x 14.0 (comb)
Sheet: Miniature sheet bearing 1 stamp
Watermark: Maltese crosses
Size: Sheet Size: 120mm x 80mm Stamp Size: 31mm x 44mm
This year marks the birth centenary of one of the Catholic Church’s greatest pontiffs.
Born Karol Jozef Wojtila, Pope John Paul II became the 264th pope and the first non-Italian in 455 years. Lasting almost 27 years, his pontificate was one of the most important in centuries, with many arguing that John Paul II himself has been the most significant pope since the Reformation and Counter Reformation.
Born in Wadowice, Poland Karol Wojtila had a more than challenging upbringing – losing all of his immediate family by the age of 21, he lived through the difficult German occupation of Poland. The departure of the Germans was replaced by Russia’s Red Army which promptly substituted Nazism for Communism. It was during this period that Wojtila clandestinely began his priestly formation for the Archdiocese of Krakow. In 1946 he was ordained a priest and in 1964 he was appointed Archbishop of Krakow. His appointment as Cardinal followed in 1967 and finally 1978 saw him as St. Peter’s successor.
His early years as priest in Communist Poland served him in good stead for a pontificate which came to be marked by a number of important contributions: a peaceful end to the Cold War, a strong pro-life advocacy, the vehement denouncement of global poverty and corruption, the promotion of social justice and the strenuous fight for Polish liberation from Communism.
Regarded by many as an open and innovative leader, John Paul II charted new paths in the history of the Papacy – becoming the first pope in history to visit the Great Synagogue of Rome and similarly Damascus’ Grand Umayyad mosque. He built alliances with Jews, Orthodox, Protestants and women, with the emerging states of postcommunist Eastern Europe and the State of Israel.
His travels took him to many far-flung countries and the memory of that familiar figure in white, blessing the ground upon arrival in each new country is vivid in the minds of many. May 1990 saw Malta offering John Paul II a magnificent welcome as he entered Grand Harbour and once again in 2001 when he returned to beatify Nazju Falzon, Preca and Sr. Maria Adeodata Pisani.
First Day Cover: