Pope John Paul II: A life in pictures [SLIDESHOW]

The beloved late Pope John Paul II, also known as John Paul the Great, will officially become a saint this Sunday. He was pope for 27 years, from 1978 until his death in 2005. He was also the first non-Italian Pope since Pope Adrian VI, in 1542.

He ascended to the papacy with remarkable speed, and to sainthood as well — just nine years after his death. The traditional five year waiting period to start the process was waived. He is credited with two miracles, including healing a woman from Parkinson’s Disease two months after his death. He himself suffered from Parkinson’s late in his life.

Rome officials said they expected 3 million visitors in the city from last week’s Easter celebrations to the canonization Sunday. The late Pope John XXIII, “the Good,” will also be canonized.

Curious? Here are some pictures of important moments in his life and death.

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  • A giant sculpture of the late Pope was unveiled in Southern Poland April 13, 2013. Here a children's choir is pictured behind the sculpture during the ceremony. The Vatican is set to canonize Pope John Paul II this Sunday. (Photo: JANEK SKARZYNSKI/Getty Images)
  • A woman cries along with thousands of Polish mourners watching a  giant screen broadcasting the funeral of the Pope's home town of Wadowice. People around Poland had attended special masses ahead of the funeral ceremonies at the Vatican, which were broadcast live on television and radio throughout the pope's homeland and on giant screens in many cities. (Photo: Getty Images)
  • Thousands of gathered pilgrims attend the Pope's funeral in St. Peter's Square April 8, 2005, in Vatican City. (Photo: Getty Images)
  • The Pope died a few days later on April 2, 2005. Here Swiss Guards stand next to the Pope's body lying-in-state in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican City. (Photo: VINCENZO PINTO/Getty Images)
  • Pope John Paul II touches his forehead a few days later, apparently frustrated, as he again tries in vain to speak to Pilgrims at the Vatican. (Photo: VINCENZO PINTO/Getty Images)
  • Tens of thousands of Catholic pilgrims waited for Pope John Paul II to give his easter blessing in St Peter's Square on March 27, 2005. Following the throat operation, the Pope's health continued to deteriorate, and he was unable to speak, but he blessed the Pilgrims from his apartment window. (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
  • The Pope's health began to decline in the '90s and he was confirmed to be suffering from Parkinson's Disease in 2003. Here, the Pope returns to the Vatican in March, 2005, after being discharged from the hospital following an 18-day stay. He had just undergone throat surgery to ease acute breathing problems.  (Photo: MARCO LONGARI/Getty Images)
  • The Pope kickin' it while on vacation in the Alpes' resort of Barasson, Italy, in the summer of 2004. (Photo: OSSERVATORE ROMANO/Getty Images)
  • The second autobiography written by Pope John Paul II is seen near St. Peter's square, on May 18, 2004 in Rome, Italy. The Pontiff celebrated his 84th birthday with the publication of the book titled: 'Get up. Let's go!' (Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
  • He was a world-traveler and made it to 129 countries during his pontificate. Here he attends a rosary's prayer during a 2003 visit to a shrine in Pompeii, Italy. It was the Pope's 143rd visit to Italy.  (Photo: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
  • The Pope is credited with helping end communist rule in Poland. Here, in June 1987, he hugs Lech Walesa, leader of Poland' Solidarity trade union and later the country first post-communist president, during the pope's visit to the northern port of Gdansk. (Photo: MARI/Getty Images)
  • The Pope was shot in the abdomen by a Turkish man in an assassination attempt December 27, 1983 St. Peter's Square, Rome -- he spent three months in the hospital. The Pope later pardoned the man, Mehmet Ali Ağca, and at the Pope's request Ağca was later released from prison. Here he shakes hands with Ağca in May, 1981.  A year after the first assassination attempt, he was reportedly assailed by a bayonet-wielding Spanish cleric. (Photo: OSSERVATORE ROMANO ARTURO MARI/Getty Images)
  • Mother Teresa kisses his hand during a November, 1978, audience in the Vatican City. (Photo: Getty Images)
  • Cardinal Wojtyla was coronated as John Paul II, October 22, 1978, in front of the Saint Peter Basilica in Vatican City. Here he kisses a priest during the ceremony. He chose his name in honor of his predecessor, Pope John Paul I, who died after only 33 days in office. (Photo: Getty Images)
  • Karol Wojtyla became a bishop in Krakow in 1958, and then archbishop in 1963. Here Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, 50, smiles at the Vatican October 16 1978, after being named as the next pope. (Photo: STRINGER/Getty Images)
  • Wojtyla on a boat. In his youth he was an athlete, actor and playwright, and learned many languages. By the time he was Pope he spoke nine languages fluently: Polish, Latin, Ancient Greek, Italian, French, German, English, Spanish and Portuguese. (Photo: STF/Getty Images)
  • Wojtyla, at 9 years old, on the day of his first communion. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)
  • Young Wojtyla pictured with his mother, Emilia, and father, Józef -- he was primarily raised by his father, who was a religious man. His mother died of heart and kidney problems when the boy was 9, and his father of a heart attack years later when he was 21. Wojtyla's sister died before he was born and his older brother when he was 12. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)
  • The Pope was born as Karol Wojtyla at this house in Wadowice, Poland May 18, 1920. (Photo: Screenshot/YouTube)