On May 18, 1920, in a small Polish town just outside of Wadowice, a child was born to Karol Wojtyla (1879-1941, and Emilia Kaczorosks (1884-1929). His name was Karol Jozef Wojtyla. Little did his parents know that one day their child was destined not only to become a priest and a bishop, but the 264th pope of the Roman Catholic Church, and only the second non-Italian pope.
Emilia, a schoolteacher, died in childbirth. Wojtyla was nine years old and the youngest of three children. This was just the beginning of a life of crosses. His oldest sister, Olga, died before he was born. His brother, Edmund, who he was very close with and who had a huge impact on him, was a physician and died of scarlet fever. Wojtyla was twelve years old.
Wojtyla was like any other boy in his early life. He greatly enjoyed skiing and swimming, but he particularly loved playing soccer, especially as goalie. Ironically, though Catholic, Wojtyla grew up in a large Jewish community. Yet, he showed no favoritism to Catholics on the playing field and often was seen sporting with the Jewish team. Neither did he show discrimination on a personal leve. In fact, Wojtyla’s first girlfriend was Ginka Beer, a Jewish girl.
It wasn’t until Hitler’s soldiers marched into Poland in 1938, that Woityla’s father moved to Krakow to enroll Wojtyla in the Jagiellonian University as a philosophy major. Wojtyla’s natural affinity for languages began at the university, eventually mastering eight different languages: Polish, Italian, Spanish, French, English, German, Portuguese, and Latin. His well-spoken linguistic gifts eventually served to strengthen his communication as pope with people around the world in 129 countries he visited during his pontificate. ...
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...ns more prayed and wept at home. John Paul II spoke his final words: “Allow me to depart to the house of the Father” and then slipped into a coma. John Paul II died April 2, 2005 at 21:37 CEST of heart failure at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City. He was 84 years old. On April 27, 2014, John Paul II was canonized as Saint John Paul II.
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