Looking back — and looking forward — at John Paul II

(CNS/Joe Rimkus Jr.)

Today is the sixth anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II. Remarkably, he will be beatified in less than a month, one of the fastest — if not the fastest — intervals between death and beatification for anyone, let alone for modern popes.

To relive the life of Karol Wojtyla and his impact on the world, especially as you prepare spiritually for the May 1 beatification, read our comprehensive obituary of Pope John Paul, written by our Rome bureau chief, John Thavis. Thavis also wrote a personal reflection on the late pope and what it was like to cover him, beginning with the day a Polish cardinal surprised the world and walked onto the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica as the first non-Italian pope in 455 years.

For more on his remarkable papacy, visit the special section we prepared and posted on the day six years ago when Pope John Paul died. (And don’t miss our look at the top conclave cardinals of 2005, including a profile of the man who was elected.)