FOR 26 years, Pope John Paul II was one of the Catholic Church’s most charismatic and admired leaders of modern times.
His life as pontiff was completely devoted to service – of his God and his Church.
From humble beginnings in Poland, he rose to the heights of power, and yet he never forgot he was merely God’s servant.
For much of his papacy he epitomised the example of a suffering servant.
From the day he almost died from an assassin’s bullet to his battle with the onset of Parkinson’s disease and his more recent health worries, he was not afraid to be seen in his physical vulnerability.
It was this physical decline that served to strengthen his spiritual tenacity.
Some have suggested this Pope will go down in history as John Paul the Great.
When one considers the sum total of his life achievements, it could well be a fair assessment of a man who not only left an indelible mark on the Catholic Church, but also literally changed the world.