Pope John Paul II: 10 Little-Known Facts about the World Leader Whose May 1 Beatification Takes Him Closer to Sainthood

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As millions of Catholics celebrate the beatification of Pope John Paul II on Sunday, May 1, a Michigan couple who wrote a book about the pope is reminding children that he was an ordinary child whose faith and determination in his early years led him to do extraordinary things.

Harbor Springs, Mich. -- (PRWEB) May 2, 2011 -- Author/illustrator duo Mark and Mary Hoffman of Harbor Springs, Mich., offer these 10 little-known facts about Karol “Lolek” Wojtyla, the Polish altar boy who went on to become a world-class freedom fighter and, as pope, contributed to the downfall of Communism in Europe. They’re excerpted from the Hoffmans’ book Lolek, The Boy who Became Pope John Paul II:

1.    Lolek, the son of a former school teacher and a lieutenant in the Polish army, grew up in a three-room apartment. He and his brother slept in the parlor.

2.    During a time when many Poles were afraid to be seen with Jews, one of Lolek’s best childhood friends was Jerzey Kluger, a Jewish boy. Lolek even played on Jerzey’s soccer team.

3.    When Lolek was 8 years old, his mother died after giving birth to his baby sister, Olga.

4.    He had a special place in his heart for Mary, the Blessed Mother. He prayed to her by repeating the Latin phrase, “Totus tuus,” meaning, “I am all yours.”

5.    Lolek could speak three languages by age 14. As an adult, he mastered eight languages, which made it easy for him to speak to people in the many countries he visited when he became pope.

6.    As a young boy, his adventurous spirit fostered a love of skiing, swimming and playing hockey—sports that many other children wouldn’t attempt.

7.    Lolek learned that strength comes with faith. While hiking in the woods with his friend Jerzey, the boys became lost during a thick fog. Lolek dropped to his knees and prayed. The fog lifted, and the boys found their way home.

8.    Lolek wanted to become an actor and loved appearing in the theater and speaking in front of large groups of people. But when the German Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, he decided to become a priest and was forced to study in a secret seminary at night.

9.    During World War II, his faith endured when he was taken to a German extermination camp and forced to split rocks in a stone quarry.

10.    Lolek’s hard work paid off. He became a priest, amazingly, under a godless, Communist government. He eventually became the archbishop of Krakow, Poland, and then was elevated to cardinal. In 1978, at age 58, he was elected pope.

Beatification is the third of the four steps in the canonization process. A person who is beatified is given the title "Blessed".
“The idea for the book was born of a deep affection for Pope John Paul II and an appreciation for the changes in our world that were a result of his diligent efforts,” Mark Hoffman said. “It’s a timely inspiration during this difficult economic period, and will continue to be during future stable ones.”
The book includes several bonuses:

  •     Bonus pages online and at the end of the book. They include lessons on how to say the rosary, and information for those interested in dedicating their lives to service through vocations.
  •     Free downloads on Lolek’s companion website: a template and instructions for children to make their own coat of arms using Pope John Paul’s as an example.
  •     A recipe for making kruschiki, a favorite Polish cookie.
  •     Instructions on how to make a traditional folded paper ornament
  •     A word search, and coloring pages.

Lolek, The Boy Who Became Pope John Paul II ($18.95) is available in bookstores, at HramiecHoffmanPublishing.com or through Amazon.com. ISBN-13: 978-0-9746901-1-7

For more information or a review copy, contact Mark Hoffman at 231-526-1011 or hramiechoffman(at)gmail(dot)com.

Company History
Hramiec Hoffman, Inc. originated in 1986 with the writings and artwork of Mark Hoffman and Mary Hramiec Hoffman. It is a small charitable company located in the resort area of Harbor Springs, Mich. Artwork at the facility includes original oil paintings, clay artwork, prints and books. The Hoffmans are available for interviews.

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