On May 13, 1981 Pope John Paul II entered St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City riding in his open-topped Pope-mobile. 20,000 faithful were on hand to enthusiastically greet him.
John Paul was of Polish descent, the first non-Italian Pope since the 16th century. He had been raised in occupied Poland during World War II and had protected Jews from the Nazis. His Polish roots and proclivities toward championing the downtrodden in the face of institutional persecution would nearly be his undoing.
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