Early on, Karol Wojtyla endured many challenges in life, including the death of his mother Emilia when he was just 8 years old. He then grew close to his older brother, Edmund. But when Karol was 12, his brother passed away. Another sister, Olga, died in infancy, before his birth.
After finishing high school, he enrolled at the Jagiellonian University of Krakow to study Polish philology. He also enrolled in acting school. But World War II and the Nazi occupation would change his plans.
To earn a living, he started working at a stone quarry when he was 19 years old. He then went on to work at a chemical factory to avoid deportation to Germany. Three years later, he decided to join an underground seminary organized by the bishop of Krakow, Cardinal Sapieha. For years, his studies were done in secrecy.
He was ordained on November 1, 1946, while a few friends and family members looked on. It was a journey that gave him a deeper understanding of faith and life. Throughout the years, Karol Wojtyla kept his interest in literature and theatre.
He will always be remember for his commitment to follow Christ, his love and respect for every person and his dedication to children, youth and the underprivileged.