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Pope John Paul II was the first Polish pope and the first non-Italian pope in 456 years? He was also the first Pope to be shot. His reign as pope of the Roman Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City was the second-longest documented pontificate, which lasted &000000000000002600000026 years and &0000000000000168000000168 days; only Pope Pius IX (1846–1878) who served 31 years, has reigned longer. Pope John Paul II is the only Slavic or Polish pope to date, and was the first non-Italian Pope since Dutch Pope Adrian VI (1522–1523).
|Pope John Paul II in 1993|
pic by Wik user Gumruch
Born Karol Józef Wojtyła, (18 May 1920 – 2 April 2005), he has been acclaimed as one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century. It is widely held that he was instrumental in ending communism in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe.
Since his death on 2 April 2005, many thousands of people have been supporting the case for beatifying and canonizing the late Pope John Paul II as a saint. His formal beatification ceremony took place on 1 May 2011.
Fluent in seven modern languages and Latin, he was one of the most-travelled world leaders in history, visiting 129 countries during his pontificate and who also had little fear of going out in public.
On May 13, 1981, near the start of his weekly general audience in Rome's St. Peter's Square, Pope John Paul II was shot and seriously wounded while passing through the square in an open car. The assailant, 23-year-old escaped Turkish murderer Mehmet Ali Agca, fired four shots, one of which hit the pontiff in the abdomen, narrowly missing vital organs, and another that hit the pope's left hand. A third bullet struck 60-year-old American Ann Odre in the chest, seriously wounding her, and the fourth hit 21-year-old Jamaican Rose Hill in the arm. Agca's weapon was knocked out of his hand by bystanders, and he was detained until his arrest by police. The pope was rushed by ambulance to Rome's Gemelli Hospital, where he underwent more than five hours of surgery and was listed in critical but stable condition. The pontiff spent three weeks in the hospital before being released fully recovered from his wounds.
On May 9, 1981, Agca took a plane from Majorca to Milan and entered Italy under an assumed name. He took a room in a hotel near the Vatican and on May 13 walked into St. Peter's Square and shot the pope with a 9mm Browning automatic. A handwritten note was found in his pocket that read: "I am killing the pope as a protest against the imperialism of the Soviet Union and the United States and against the genocide that is being carried out in Salvador and Afghanistan." He pleaded guilty, saying he acted alone, and in July 1981 was sentenced to life in prison.
In 1982, Agca announced that his assassination attempt was actually part of a conspiracy involving the Bulgarian intelligence services, which was known to act on behalf of the KGB.
|Monument to Pope John Paul II|
|The Western Wall in Jerusalem|
Israeli cabinet minister Rabbi Michael Melchior, who hosted the Pope's visit, said he was "very moved" by the Pope's gesture.
In February 2005, Pope John Paul II was hospitalized with complications from the flu. He died two months later, on April 2, 2005, at his home in the Vatican. Six days later two million people packed Vatican City for his funeral--said to be the biggest funeral in history.
- 1940, Germany invaded Holland and Belgium, as Winston Churchill became prime minister of Great Britain. On May 10, 1940, Hitler begins his Western offensive with the radio code word "Danzig," sending his forces into Holland and Belgium. On this same day, having lost the support of the Labour Party, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain resigns; Winston Churchill accedes to the office, becoming defense minister as well.
- 1950, Flash floods in Nebraska killed 23. In Nebraska on May 8,1950, a flood caused by 14 inches of rain kills 23 people. Most of the victims drowned after being trapped in their vehicles by flash flooding.
In southeastern Nebraska, cornfields dominate the landscape. It is the rainiest region of the state, getting approximately 35 inches annually. The spring and summer of 1950 far exceeded that total. The deadly flash flooding was part of a series of floods to hit the area near Lincoln, Nebraska, where the Big Blue River feeds into the Kansas River, between May and July of that year because of a spate of thunderstorm activity.
- 1960, FDA aprroved the pill. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the world's first commercially produced birth-control bill--Enovid-10, made by the G.D. Searle Company of Chicago, Illinois, on May 9, 1960.
1963, Sean Connery starred in his first Bond movie, Dr. No. With the release of Dr. No, moviegoers got their first look--down the barrel of a gun--at the super-spy James Bond (codename: 007), the immortal character created by Ian Fleming in his now-famous series of novels and portrayed onscreen by the relatively unknown Scottish actor Sean Connery.
- 1963, Bob Dylan walked out on the Ed Sullivan Show. Bob Dylan had secured what would surely be his big break with an invitation to perform on The Ed Sullivan Show. That appearance never happened. On May 12, 1963, the young and unknown Bob Dylan walked off the set of the country's highest-rated variety show after network censors rejected the song - "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues", he planned on performing. Rather than choose a new number to perform or change his song's lyrics—as the Rolling Stones and the Doors would famously do in the years to come—Dylan stormed off the set in angry protest.
- 1964, An unlikely challenger ended the Beatles' reign atop the U.S. pop charts. Following the ascension of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" to #1 in early February, the Beatles held the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 for three and a half solid months—longer than any popular artist before or since. Over the course of those months, the Fab Four earned three consecutive #1 singles (a record); held all five spots in the top five in early April (a record); and had a total of 14 songs in the Billboard Hot 100 in mid-April (yet another record). But just when it seemed that no homegrown act would ever stand up to the British invaders, one of least likely American stars imaginable proved himself equal to the task. On May 9, 1964, the great Louis Armstrong, age 63, broke the Beatles' stranglehold on the U.S. pop charts with the #1 hit "Hello Dolly."
- 1972, Fire broke out at a club in Japan. On May 13, 1972, a fire breaks out at the Playtown Cabaret in Osaka, Japan, that kills 118 people. Only 48 people at the trendy nightclub survived the horrific blaze because safety equipment was faulty and safety procedures were not followed. The fire exits were hidden by drapes and almost no one in the club found them. Twenty people did locate the emergency chute, but it collapsed as they made their way to the ground and all of them were killed.Other people sought to escape the smoke and flames by jumping to the roof of a nearby building, but it was too far and all who tried were killed.
|The cast of |
Welcome Back, Kotter
- 1978, Aldo Moro found dead. On May 9, 1978, the body of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro is found, riddled by bullets, in the back of a car in the center of historic Rome. He was kidnapped by Red Brigade terrorists on March 16 after a bloody shoot-out near his suburban home. The Italian government refused to negotiate with the extreme left-wing group, which, after numerous threats, executed Moro on May 9. He was a five-time prime minister of Italy and considered a front-runner for the presidency of Italy in elections due in December.
Bob Marley live in concert, 1980
- 1987, Forest Fire swept across China. Firefighters finally contained a giant fire that swept eastward across China on May 12, 1987, but not before 193 people were killed.The fateful fire began on May 6 in Mohe County of the Heilongjiang Province. From the outset, authorities mishandled the blaze, failing to contain it while the size was still manageable. It spread quickly and within two days, 2,000 square miles had burned and 100 people were dead. Firefighters also had to contend with a separate large forest fire that had broken out near China's border with the Soviet Union that threatened to join the initial blaze.
- 1988, Woman convicted for tampering with Excedrin. Stella Nickell is convicted on two counts of murder by a Seattle, Washington, jury. She was the first person to be found guilty of violating the Federal Anti-Tampering Act after putting cyanide in Excedrin capsules in an effort to kill her husband.
Stella and Bruce Nickell married in 1976, shortly after seven people were killed in Chicago, Illinois, from poisoned Tylenol pills. According to Stella's daughter from a previous marriage, Stella had begun planning Bruce's murder almost from the honeymoon. The Chicago Tylenol incident (which was never solved) had a lasting impact on Stella, who decided that cyanide would be a good method of murder.
- 1996, Death on Mount Everest. Eight climbers die on Mount Everest during a storm on May 10, 1996. It was the worst loss of life ever on the mountain on a single day. Author Jon Krakauer, who himself attempted to climb the peak that year, wrote a best-selling book about the incident, Into Thin Air, which was published in 1997. A total of 15 people perished during the spring 1996 climbing season at Everest. Between 1980 and 2002, 91 climbers died during the attempt.
- 2001, Soccer fans trampled n Ghana. On May 9, 2001, during a soccer match at Accra Stadium in Ghana, an encounter between police and rowdy fans results in a stampede that kills 126 people. This tragedy was the worst-ever sports-related disaster in Africa's history to that time.
In the months leading to the incident, there had been several other disasters at soccer matches in Africa. On April 11, 43 fans lost their lives in South Africa and on April 29, a stampede in the Congo killed eight people. In fact, the previous 10 years of soccer in Africa had seen one disaster after another. Most of them were caused by the overcrowding of stadiums because of rampant corruption among ticket takers, the locking of security gates, under-training of security forces and the indiscriminate use of tear gas. In Nigeria at the time of the Accra disaster, tear gas was used on soccer crowds on a weekly basis.