As we prepare for the feast of Saint John Paul II, we invite you to continue on this pilgrimage through our permanent exhibit, A Gift of Love: The Life of Saint John Paul II. We hope you will walk through each of the nine galleries with us, so that you can get a taste of the spiritual and informational journey that awaits you here at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine.
This week we will explore the second gallery: Light in Darkness. In this part of the exhibit, pilgrims learn more about John Paul II's birth, his childhood, and his vocation to the priesthood.
Born Karol Wojtyła on May 18, 1920, the great saint was born in Wadowice, Poland to a strong Catholic family. From an early age, Karol was well-formed in the faith, and this faith became a light for him during the darker times in his life.
It didn’t take long for this light to be confronted by great darkness. Karol was born close to the end of WWI, and he reached adulthood in Nazi-occupied Poland. Following the defeat of the Nazi’s, he lived in a Poland ruled by the totalitarian and atheistic Soviet Union. Karol also confronted dark times on a personal level. His mother passed away when he was very young, and he lost all of his family by age 20.