St John Paul 11 Patron for Youth Battery Candle
St John Paul 11, Latin Johannes Paulus, original name Karol Józef Wojtyła, (born May 18, 1920, Wadowice. Poland—died April 2, 2005, Vatican City. Beatified May 1, 2011; canonized April 27, 2014; feast day October 22). Bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church (1978–2005). The first non-Italian pope in 455 years and the first from a Slavic country. His pontificate of more than 26 years was the third longest in history.
Early life and influences
Wojtyła’s childhood coincided with the only period of freedom that Poland would know between 1772 and 1989: the two decades between Marshal Józef Piłsudski’s defeat of the Soviet Red Army in 1920 and the German invasion in 1939. Wojtyła thus grew up experiencing national freedom but also understanding its vulnerability. Although Wadowice, a town of about 8,000 Catholics and 2,000 Jews, lay only 15 miles (24 km) from the future site of Auschwitz, a Nazi death camp, there was apparently little anti-Semitism in the town before the war. One of Wojtyła’s close boyhood friends was a son of the leader of Wadowice’s Jewish community.
Wojtyła’s father, Karol senior, was a lieutenant in the Polish army. His mother, Emilia Kaczorowska, died when he was eight years old; his brother, Edmund, who had become a physician, died less than four years later. Wojtyła was an outgoing youth, though always with a serious side. He excelled in academics and dramatics, played football (soccer), and, under his father’s guidance, lived a disciplined life of routine religious observance. He regularly assisted Father Kazimierz Figlewicz, his confessor and first teacher in Catholicism, in Wadowice’s main church, which was next door to the Wojtyła family’s tiny apartment.