Today marks the 24th anniversary of the election of Pope John Paul to the papacy. The white smoke from the Sistine Chapel indicating the election of Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, archbishop of Krakow, to the See of Peter was seen at 6.18 pm on October 16, 1978. At 6.45 pm Cardinal Pericle Felici announced that there was a new Pope and that he had chosen the name of John Paul II. At 7.15 pm the first Polish Pope in Church history appeared at the central loggia of St Peter's Basilica. Only four Popes, including St Peter, have reigned longer than Pope John Paul II. In ascending order, they are: Pius VI (24 years, six months, seven days); Leo XIII (25 years, 5 months); Pius IX (31 years, seven months, 21 days) and St Peter (dates unknown). Next Tuesday, October 22 marks the 24th anniversary of the solemn inauguration of Pope John Paul II's pontificate. Statistics on his pontificate have been compiled by both Vatican Radio, which helps to organize the papal trips abroad, and by the Holy See Press Office. John Paul II has made 98 foreign apostolic trips to 129 different countries, travelling a total of 1,236,702 kilometres (742,020 miles) which is approximately three times the distance to the moon. He has made 142 trips within Italy. He has given over 3,300 speeches during those trips and has spent an estimated 11.5 percent of his pontificate outside of Rome. As Bishop of Rome he has visited 301 of the diocese's 334 parishes. The Holy Father has written 13 encyclicals, 13 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions, 41 apostolic letters and 28 Motu proprio. A new document on the rosary is expected later today. The Pope has proclaimed 1,297 Blesseds (1025 martyrs and 272 confessors) in 135 beatification ceremonies, and 464 Saints (401 martyrs and 63 confessors) in 47 canonization ceremonies. John Paul II has held eight consistories for the creation of cardinals and has named a total of 201 cardinals. The most recent consistory was in February 2001. The current College of Cardinals is composed of 171 members, 90 percent of whom have been named by Pope John Paul: Of these, 115 are eligible to vote. He has convened six plenary reunions of the College of Cardinals and there have been 15 synods during his pontificate: six ordinary general assemblies, one extraordinary general assembly, seven special assemblies and one particular synod. Pope John Paul has held over 1,430 audiences and meetings with political figures, including 38 official visits by heads of state, 677 other audiences with heads of state and 219 audiences and encounters with prime ministers. He has presided over 1,055 weekly general audiences (this figure includes today's audience) in the presence of approximately 16,561,000 faithful from every part of the world. source: Vatican Information Service
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