Pope John Paul II

Essay by spwclarkUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2006

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The most recognized man in the world, His Holiness Pope John Paul II was born in Wadowice, Poland on the 18th of May, 1920. When he was born he was given the name Karol Jozef Wojtyla, Karol after his father and Jozef after the father of Jesus Christ. He was referred to affectionately as Lolek. By the age of 21 the Pope had experienced great loss with the deaths of all the immediate members of his family. His mother died when he was only 8 years old, his elder brother, a doctor, when he was 12 and his father when he was just 21. His father had dreamed of seeing his son enter the priesthood, but unfortunately he did not live to see him become a priest. As a schoolboy the Pope was an excellent student and an enthusiastic athlete - he skied, hiked, kayaked and swam. The Pope's family members were strict Catholics, but he had Christian friends and Jewish friends - in a time when many behaved in a racist manner towards Jewish people.

After graduating from high school the Pope attended the university in Krakow. While at university studying Literature and Philosophy, he also joined a theatre company.

In 1939 Nazi Germany invaded Poland. The Nazis closed libraries, and universities - including the one where the Pope studied. They shot people for going to the theatre and even for speaking the Polish language. They even shot priests who opposed them. The Pope also saw his Jewish friends and neighbors being herded into the ghetto. During this time the Pope worked in a quarry and a chemical factory while he studied Theology in secret. He stated, "Any day I could have been picked up on the street, at the factory or at the stone quarry and sent...