He Lived Through Times of Unimaginable Darkness

St. John Paul II

Before his 21st birthday, he’d lost his father, mother, and brother; his sister died before he was born.


When he was a young man, the Nazis occupied his home country of Poland. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union inflicted communist rule on the Polish people. He lived out his vocation as a priest, bishop, cardinal, and Pope through war, cultural upheaval, oppression, opposition, and declining health.

But he never lost hope.

Pope Saint John Paul II loved God, and he loved people. A scholar, actor, and playwright, he believed that art and beauty could transform the world. He followed in the footsteps of the great saints before him, upholding Truth and affirming the goodness of humanity. He called on all people – especially young people – to live their faith boldly and be lights in the darkness. And he led by example, inspiring others to bravely follow Jesus in their words and actions.

On Saint John Paul II’s feast day, we’ve compiled some of his inspirational quotes. We hope you find solace and encouragement in these words from a saint who experienced firsthand the challenges of the modern world, yet never lost his faith and love. John Paul II, we love you, pray for us!

In the words of Saint John Paul II:

— I plead with you—never, ever, give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid. – Pope John Paul II: In My Own Words

— Duc in altum! These words ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm, and to look forward to the future with confidence. – Novo Millennio Ineunte

— The future is in your hearts and in your hands. God is entrusting to you the task—at once difficult and uplifting—of working with Him in the building of the civilization of love.  – World Youth Day 2002

— May the beauty which you [artists] pass on to generations still to come be such that it will stir them to wonder! Faced with the sacredness of life and of the human person, and before the marvels of the universe, wonder is the only appropriate attitude. – Letter to Artists

— Remember that you are never alone, Christ is with you on your journey every day of your lives! He has called you and chosen you to live in the freedom of the children of God. Turn to Him in prayer and in love. Ask Him to grant you the courage and strength to live in this freedom always. Walk with Him who is “the Way, the Truth and the Life!” – World Youth Day 1997

— Darkness can only be scattered by light. Hatred can only be conquered by love. – 2002 Address to the Diplomatic Corps

— Open your minds and hearts to the beauty of all that God has made and to His special, personal love for each one of you.  – World Youth Day 1993

— In Christ, God has reconciled the world to himself. All believers are called to bear witness to this; but it is up to you, men and women who have given your lives to art, to declare with all the wealth of your ingenuity that in Christ the world is redeemed: the human person is redeemed, the human body is redeemed, and the whole creation which, according to Saint Paul, “awaits impatiently the revelation of the children of God” (Rom 8:19), is redeemed.  – Letter to Artists

— The world you are inheriting is a world which desperately needs a new sense of brotherhood and human solidarity. It is a world which needs to be touched and healed by the beauty and richness of God’s love. It needs witnesses to that love. The world needs salt. It needs you—to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. – World Youth Day 2002

— Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. – Mass for the Inauguration of the Pontificate

— It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal. – World Youth Day 2000

— The creation awaits the revelation of the children of God also through art and in art. This is your task. Humanity in every age, and even today, looks to works of art to shed light upon its path and its destiny. – Letter to Artists

— It is no accident that we are here. Each and every human person has been created in the “image and likeness” of the One who is the origin of all that is. We have within us the capacities for wisdom and virtue. With these gifts, and with the help of God’s grace, we can build in the next century and the next millennium a civilization worthy of the human person, a true culture of freedom. We can and must do so! And in doing so, we shall see that the tears of this century have prepared the ground for a new springtime of the human spirit. – 1995 Address to the United Nations General Assembly

— The message of love that Christ brought is always important, always relevant. It is not difficult to see how today’s world, despite its beauty and grandeur, despite the conquests of science and technology, despite the refined and abundant material goods that it offers, is yearning for more truth, for more love, for more joy. And all of this is found in Christ and in His way of life. – 1979 Apostolic Journey to the United States of America

— Whatever you make of your life, let it be something that reflects the love of Christ. The whole people of God will be all the richer because of the diversity of your commitments. In whatever you do, remember that Christ is calling you, in one way or another, to the service of love: the love of God and of your neighbor. – 1979 Apostolic Journey to the United States of America

— Beauty is the vocation bestowed on [the artist] by the Creator in the gift of artistic talent. – Letter to Artists

— There is no evil to be faced that Christ does not face with us. There is no enemy that Christ has not already conquered. There is no cross to bear that Christ has not already borne for us, and does not now bear with us. – 1995 Apostolic Journey to the United States of America


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