The Life and Ministry of Blessed John Paul II
Adapted from From Pope John Paul II to Benedict XVI, by Sister Mary Ann Walsh, RSM with Catholic News Service
© 2005, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, all rights reserved.
Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, lived an unusually varied life before his priestly ordination. As a teen, he split stone at a quarry, wrote poetry and supported a network that smuggled Jews to safety during the German occupation of Poland.
As a young priest, he was a favorite with students at Lublin University who flocked to his classes and joined him on camping, hiking and canoeing trips. As the second-youngest cardinal ever named by the Vatican, he ran an informal office and celebrated holidays with Krakow actors.
It should have been no surprise that he would redefine the traditional role and demeanor of the papacy by traveling extensively, continuing to enjoy outdoor activities and taking on a wide range of political and moral issues.
As a high school student in his hometown of Wadowice, in southern Poland, Wojtyla impressed classmates by the intense way he would pray in church, a habit of deep meditation that remained with him for life
"Even as a boy he was exceptional," said Rafat Tatka, a neighbor who knew the young boy as Lolek, a nickname that translates as Chuck. Read More