After his ordination to the priesthood and theological studies in Rome, he returned to his homeland and resumed various pastoral and academic tasks. He became first auxiliary bishop and, in 1964, Archbishop of Kraków and took part in the Second Vatican Council.

On 16 October 1978 he was elected pope and took the name John Paul II. His exceptional apostolic zeal, particularly for families, young people and the sick, led him to numerous pastoral visits throughout the world. He visited Portugal on four occasions and met with the last remaining visionary of Fatima Sister Lucia.

He died peacefully in Rome on 2 April 2005. He was canonized by Pope Francis on 27 April, the Second Sunday of Easter 2014.