If one were to gauge influence by the number of Time Magazine covers, Pope John Paul II is the most important religious figure in the publication's history; having graced the cover over 15 times.

Religion and spirituality are featured prominently in a new book titled Inside the Red Border that celebrates the iconic magazine's 90th anniversary.

"Time Magazine has always been fascinated by religion," Howard Chua-Eoan explained to The Huffington Post. "It goes back to Henry Luce, the founder, who was the son of missionaries." Chua-Eoan should know. In addition to rising to Assistant Managing Editor, he also held the position of Religion Editor. "Time has had a religion section from the beginning."

While not coming close to Richard Nixon, who held the record of the most covers at 55, John Paul II was a very "newsy" Pope. He was a good figure for Time Magazine to champion, as Chua-Eoan explained: "John Paul II stood up and inspired a rebellion against communism, and that was perfect for the Time audience which is very American, slightly conservative and viewed the Soviet Union as a threat. John Paul II was a hero in the eyes of many people at Time."

Another favorite the magazine identified early on was a young charismatic preacher named Billy Graham. "Luce saw the influence he might eventually have as a religious leader and as a counselor to presidents and Luce was a big influence in the decision to follow his career," said Chua-Eoan.

The magazine also covered major stories such as the rise of Buddhism and or spirituality in general. One cover featured in the book shows Shirley MacLaine floating in space with a big Om... as the headline.

Of the 90 years Time Magazine has chosen a Person Of The Year, only five have been religious leaders: John Paul II, Pope John XXIII, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Gandhi. As Chua-Eoan explained, "They were chosen more for their political influence than their spiritual wisdom."

When asked if Pope Francis had a shot for this years Person of the Year, Chua-Eoan demurred. "I have no idea. Everyone has their favorite name. But I hope so, I would love it."

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  • John Paul II

    October 30, 1978

  • Triumphal Return

    June 18, 1979

  • John Paul, Superstar

    October 15, 1979

  • Terrorist's Target

    May 25, 1981

  • Why Forgive?

    January 9, 1984

  • U.S. Catholics

    September 7,1987

  • Man Of The Year

    December 26, 1994