John Paul II to Mark 23 Years in Papacy

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2001 ( John Paul II reaches another milestone Tuesday, when he marks 23 years since his election as Pope.

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At 6:18 p.m. on Oct. 16, 1978, the people gathered in St. Peter´s Square saw white smoke rising from the Sistine Chapel, indicated that a new Pope had been elected.

At 6:45 p.m., Cardinal Pericle Felici announced that the new Pope — Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow — had chosen the name John Paul II.

At 7:15 p.m. the first Polish Pope in history appeared on the central balcony of St. Peter´s Basilica.

Only six Popes, including Peter, have occupied the papal throne for a longer period than John Paul II.

They are, in ascending order, Pius VII (23 years, 5 months and 6 days); Adrian I (23 years, 10 months and 24 days); Pius VI (24 years, 6 months and 7 days); Leo XIII (25 years and 5 months); Pius IX (31 years, 7 months and 21 days), and Peter (exact dates unknown).

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