(Almost) everything has been written about Karol Wojtyła. This does not change the fact that it is worth asking ourselves over and over again: where do saints come from? What events, places, and life choices shaped them? From whom did they learn to practice God's love and mercy toward others? How did their path to holiness begin?
In the summer of 1938, the future pope moved from Wadowice to Krakow with his father, to ul. Tyniecka 10. They settled down in two small, modest rooms with a kitchen. Karol began studying Polish literature at the Jagiellonian University. It seemed that before the talented eighteen-year-old stood a career in literature or acting. But here, onto the stage of his life, God and history stepped in.
War breaks out on 1 September 1939. Germans close all universities. On 18 February 1941, Karol’s father dies. Karol often walks from his new residence to the then-newly-built nearby church of St. Stanislaus Kostka in Dębniki. Here, during the war, he will meet an extraordinary man – Jan Tyranowski. This tailor with a mystical soul will show young Wojtyła a new dimension of spirituality.
Karol also prays elsewhere. He will often go up there on his way to work in the nearby Solvay quarry and factory. This is the church and monastery of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, where Sr. Faustina Kowalska spent the last years of her life and where the devotion to Divine Mercy slowly begins to grow. At the time, no one has any idea that the image with the inscription Jesus, I trust in You will make its way to churches on all continents, and that the scrawny boy in wooden shoes and work clothes will be successor to St. Peter.
With time, his dream of being a poet and actor fade. Karol chooses the priesthood and begins attending a clandestine seminary. In August 1944, in the face of threats from the Germans, he leaves Tyniecka and, together with other seminarians, takes refuge in the Bishop’s House in Krakow. Thanks to him, this address – Franciszkańska 3 – will one day be known to the whole world.