(The special edition postage stamps of the late Pope John Paul II, valued at 0.60 euro ($0.89) each, are seen in Rome April 29, 2011/Alessia Pierdomenico)

The Vatican is preparing to elevate the late pontiff, John Paul II, one step closer to sainthood on Sunday in a ceremony of beatification. Here is a timeline of the pontificate of John Paul.

October 16, 1978 – Cardinal Karol Wojtyla of Krakow in Poland elected as first non-Italian pope in 455 years.

June 2-10, 1979 – Returns to his communist-ruled homeland, a trip seen as a factor in the rise of the Solidarity movement.

May 13, 1981 – Shot by Turkish gunman Mehmet Ali Agca in St Peter’s Square. Surgery saves his life.