John Paul II Closing In on Another Milestone

ROME, SEPT. 10, 2002 ( On Sept. 16, John Paul II’s pontificate will become the fifth longest in history.

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On that day, he will surpass the 23 years and 11 months that Adrian I was Pope, in the years 772 to 795.

In eight months time, the Holy Father would surpass Pius VI, who governed the Church for 24 years, 6 months and 7 days.

The longest of the pontificates was the first, that of St. Peter, who led the Church for 34 to 37 years.

St. Peter is followed by Blessed Pius IX (1846-1878), with 31 years, 7 months, and 21 days; Leo XIII (1878-1903), with 25 years and 5 months; and Pius VI (1775-1799), with 24 years, 6 months and 4 days.

Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow was elected Supreme Pontiff on Oct. 16, 1978. At age 58 he became the youngest Pope of the century. He was the first non-Italian since Dutchman Adrian VI (elected 1522).

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