Blessed Pope John Paul II ( born Karol Józef Wojtyła (Polish) 18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005), known as Blessed John Paul II[ since hisbeatification on May 1, 2011, reigned as Popeof the Catholic Churchfrom 16 October 1978 until his death on 2 April 2005, at 84 years and 319 days of age. His was the second-longest documented pontificate which lasted 26 years and 168 days.Pope John Paul II is the only Slavicor Polishpope to date, and was the first non-ItalianPope since DutchPope Adrian VI(1522–1523). John Paul II has been acclaimed as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. It is widely held that he was instrumental in ending communismin his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. Conversely, he denounced the excesses of capitalism. John Paul II is widely said to have significantly improved the Catholic Church's relations with Judaism , Islamthe Eastern Orthodox Churchand the Anglican Communion. Though criticised by progressives for upholding the Church's teachings against artificial contraceptionand the ordination of women he was also criticized by traditionalists for his support of the Church's Second Vatican Counciland its reform of the Liturgyas well as his ecumenical efforts. He was one of the most-travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate.He spoke Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian , Croatian and Latinas well as his native Polish.On 19 December 2009, John Paul II was proclaimed venerableby his successor Pope Benedict XVIand was beatifiedon 1 May 2011.
Nicolaus Copernicus(19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543) was a Renaissanceastronomer and the first person to formulate a comprehensive heliocentriccosmologywhich displaced the Earthfrom the center of the universe. Copernicus' epochal book, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium(On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres), published just before his death in 1543, is often regarded as the starting point of modern astronomyand the defining epiphanythat began the scientific revolution. His heliocentric model, with the Sun at the center of the universe, demonstrated that the observed motions of celestial objects can be explained without putting Earth at rest in the center of the universe. His work stimulated further scientific investigations, becoming a landmarkin the history of sciencethat is often referred to as the Copernican Revolution Among the great polymathsof the Renaissance, Copernicus was a mathematician, astronomer, physician, quadrilingual,polyglot, classical scholar, translator, artist, Catholic cleric, jurist, governor, military leader, diplomatand economist Among his many responsibilities, astronomy figured as little more than an avocation—yet it was in that field that he made his mark upon the world.
Lech Walesa(born 29 September 1943) is a Polishpolitician trade-unionorganizer, and human-rightsactivist. A charismatic leader, he co-founded Solidarity(Solidarność), the Soviet bloc'sfirst independent trade union won the Nobel Peace Prizein 1983, and served as President of Poland1990–95. Wałęsa was an electricianby trade, with no higher education Soon after beginning work at the Gdańsk (then, "Lenin") Shipyards, he became a trade-union activist. For this he was persecuted by the Polish communist government placed under surveillance, fired in 1976, and arrested several times. In August 1980 he was instrumental in negotiations that led to the ground-breaking Gdańsk Agreementbetween striking workers and the government, and he became a co-founder of the Solidaritytrade-union movement. Arrested again after martial law was imposedand Solidarity was outlawed, upon release he continued his activism and was prominent in the establishment of the 1989 Round Table Agreementthat led to semi-free parliamentary elections in June 1989and to a Solidarity-led government. In 1990 he successfully ranfor the newly re-established office of President of Poland. He presided over Poland's transformation from a communist to a post-communist state but his popularity waned. After he narrowly lost the 1995 presidential election his role in Polish politicswas diminished. His international fame remains, however, and he speaks and lectures in Poland and abroad on history and politics.