Pope John Paul II was born as Karol Józef Wojtyła on May 18, 1920. He was born in a Polish town called Wadowice, Poland, which is about 35 miles Southwest of Krakow. Wadowice is a town that was 80% Catholic and 20% Jewish. His father, also Karol Wojtyla, was a retired Army officer and tailor, while his mother, Emilia Kaczorowska Wojtyla, was a schoolteacher from Lithuania. Karol had an older brother who was the pride of the family as a Physician and an infant sister that died before Karol was born. Karol’s mother died when he was just 9 years old in 1929 and in 1932 his brother Edmund died at the age of 26 to scarlet fever. Though his parents were extremely strict and devoted Catholics they were not the normal anti-Semitic Catholics of that time. Many of Karol’s lifelong friends were Jews growing up and he stayed in touch with them throughout his life; he attended school and constantly played with them as a child. Karol was a very active and athletic child growing up, as he loved to play soccer, ice hockey, hike, ski and swim. Karol was also very interested in theatre and poetry as evident here, “There was no school production in which he didn’t take part, and it was usually the leading part” (Renehan 28). This quote gives us an idea how passionate and exicted Karol was about theatre as it also explains that many of the plays he took part in were produced by himself. When Karol graduated secondary school in 1938 him and his father moved to Krakow where he would attend Jagiellonian University to study literature and Philosophy. While he was there he founded an underground theater, as said here, “There, with Nazism on the rise in Europe, Wojtyla founded an underground theater company for which he wrote and acted in plays that frequently dealt with oppression.” (Renehan 28). He had to start this underground theater so the Nazis would not detect him; this also shows how serious he was about acting and theater. Through all of his acting and literature...
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