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Karol Wojtyla's early life experiences were of intense love and intense loss: born in Poland in 1920, he was eight when his mother died, twelve when his older brother died of scarlet fever in the hospital where he worked as a doctor, and twenty when his severe but loving father died during the Nazi occupation. God and the Catholic Church were from the beginning his consolation and strength. What is new and unusual about this timely biography is the attention the author gives to the inner man.Garry O'Connor has not only investigated Karol Wojtyla's life before he became pope, his love of football, skiing and the outdoor life, his commitment to acting, his friendships with men and with women, his experiences under German then Soviet occupation, his nationalism, his early years as a priest, but has also subtly analysed the pope's own poems, plays and philosophical works as clues to what made him tick. The result is a living portrait, vivid and accessible, based on scrupulous research that dramatically tracks the personal tragedies, including the assassination attempt in 1981, and the great public confrontations on the world stage.
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If God is in the details, He’s surely present here. Layer by rich layer, author and prolific English biographer Garry O’Connor chronologically tells the story of the extraordinary life of the late Pope John Paul II. O’Connor shows that to understand the man is first to understand Poland and its history. He introduces us to young Karol Wojtyla’s family members and their numerous tragedies, and shows how his friendships and education shaped Wojtyla for his future role.
We come to know the colorful, multi-faceted future pope through his correspondence, his plays, and his poetry. By turns, Pope John Paul II is shown to be actor, philosopher, athlete, musician, comic book hero, mystic. Wojtyla’s call to the priesthood is compelling, when juxtaposed against the horrors of war and deprivation. As Wojtyla sweats in a quarry or shovels out old prison latrines, it lends context for his future knack of identifying with the common laborer. After Wojtyla assumes the papacy, O’Connor provides a window into the Holy Father’s daily life, his travels, his admirers and his detractors. He also examines the Pope’s controversial battles against women’s ordination, contraception, abortion, and materialism. The chronology concludes right before John Paul II’s death in 2005.
If the loss of one of the greatest leaders in religion of the twentieth century inspires readers to take a deeper look at Pope John Paul II’s life, this book will offer a satisfying, comprehensive tour of the outer events and inner life of a complex and beloved man.--Cindy CrosbyFrom the Inside Flap:
UNIVERSAL FATHER: A Life of John Paul II
Pope John Paul II is universally considered one of the great leaders of the twentieth century for his resolute resistance to Soviet Communism, for his steadfast opposition to war, and for opening up the papacy to ordinary people. He will go down in history not only as the third longest-serving pope, but possibly the most politically influential of all 305 popes and antipopes since St. Peter.
Born in Poland in 1920, Karol Wojtyla's early life experiences were of intense love and intense loss: he was eight when his mother died, twelve when his older brother died of scarlet fever, and twenty when his severe but loving father died during the Nazi occupation. An athlete, a gifted poet, playwright and actor, by 1944, after a near fatal accident, Wojtyla was studying for the priesthood in secret. So began a lifelong quest to understand good and evil in the human heart.
Five years in the making, Universal Father is a vivid and scrupulously researched portrait of this extraordinary man. Beginning with Wojtyla's trying childhood and his early years as a priest in rural Poland, and continuing on to his travels to Rome, and his subsequent papal reign, O'Connor's biography is unparalleled for the attention it also gives to the inner man―including a subtle analysis of the pope's own poems, plays, and philosophical works. An exploration of both the personal tragedies in the pope's life, among them the assassination attempt in 1981, and the public triumphs, such as the great public confrontations with Soviet Communism in his native Poland, Universal Father is a revealing and profoundly moving testament.
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