POPE John Paul II, who died at the weekend aged 84, will be remembered as one of the greatest communicators and most influential figures of modern times.
Born Karol Jozef Wojtyla, he was a Pole who became the first non-Italian to rule the Vatican for 450 years, living to mark his silver jubilee in office on October 16, 2003.
On March 14, 2004, he became the third-longest-serving pontiff in history, having served 25 years and five months in office.
Dubbed "God's athlete" at the start of his reign in 1978, in recognition of his sporting prowess, and blessed with striking looks, he received a reception in some countries more like a global pop star.
In later years the ravages of Parkinson's disease and crippling hip and knee ailments reduced him to a physically frail figure.
The Pope's views on issues such as abortion and his championing of human rights, expressed with characteristic vigour and clarity, were the hallmark of his reign.
He likened the modern debates on euthanasia and abortion to the US's historic battles against racism and slavery, and also spoke out against embryonic stem cell research and the death penalty.
He was opposed to the use of birth control and ruled out the ordination of women priests, not only for his lifetime, but used his position as pontiff to impose a ban "sine die" - for all time.
He also reiterated the Church's uncompromising approach to homosexuality and divorce.
He put human rights at the centre of the most powerful religious institution in the world - fervently opposing Nazism, communism and the failings of capitalism.
Through his support for the trade union Solidarity in Poland, he placed a high value on work and supported workers' rights.
The 1987 Papal encyclical Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concern) contained harsh words for both liberal capitalism and Marxist collectivism.
Papal speeches also questioned the morality of sanctions on Iraq, equated consumerism with fascism and criticised the American squeeze on Cuba.
John Paul II, perhaps more than the secular figures of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, was credited with helping to bring down the Iron Curtain with his high-profile visits and anti-communist stance.
Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader, wrote later: "Everything that happened in eastern Europe would have been impossible without the presence of this Pope."
His ability to mesmerise a crowd of hundreds of thousands, and humble leaders from Fidel Castro to Ferdinand Marcos, was legendary.
In Ireland in 1979 he said mass before 1.25m people in Dublin's Phoenix Park, while his tour of Britain in 1982 drew admiration for his deft avoidance of conflict at the time of the Falklands War.
He visited Argentina days before the end of the conflict, lecturing the dictator General Leopoldo Galtieri on the "absurd and always unfair phenomenon of war".
As he travelled the world, Pope John Paul II was careful to maintain firm control over his church.
He clamped down on "liberation theologians" in Latin America and demanded discipline throughout the corridors of the Vatican.
Dogged by ill-health, he quashed speculation about whether he would step down by saying: "I leave to Christ the decision as to how and when He will release me."
His last years were marked by an iron-willed effort to see some of his long-cherished dreams fulfilled.
He was desperate to promote his crusade to seek common ground between the three great monotheistic faiths of Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
His visit in 2000 to Israel, Jordan and the West Bank was preceded by a plea for forgiveness for the "past sins of the Church" including the Crusades and the Inquisition.
He also asked for pardon for the Christian mistreatment of the Jews, whom he called "the people of the Covenant".