14 March 2011

Karol Wojtyla -- Priest and Protector

This is another in a series of posts where real historical figures from World War II are slightly tweaked for a mystical Weird War II game I am slowly developing.  This entry features someone many people, myself included, venerate.  No disrespect is intended by fictionalizing some of his early history.  He was heroic enough without me adding to his legacy.


In 1938, an 18 year old Karol Wojtyla arrived with his father in Krakow.  He soon enrolled in university, studying languages and philology.  Within three years, his country would be occupied by the Nazi's and his father would be dead of a heart-attack.  Karol held a series of jobs to avoid deportation to Germany, but his father's death moved him to join the priesthood.  His courses were taught in an underground seminary run by the Archbishop of Krakow.  Karol, after being hit and almost killed by a German truck, spent the rest of the war studying for the priesthood and hiding from the Nazis, who sought to round up all able bodied men after the Warsaw Uprising.  He is credited with personally saving the life of a Jewish refugee and helping to protect many other Polish Jews.  Karol was ordained as a priest in 1946 and assisted in reinstallation of the Stoss Altar at the Basilica of the Virgin Mary, despite the occupation of Krakow by the Soviet Army.

We all know Karol Wojtyla as Pope John Paul II.

You don't even have to go Weird to use the young seminarian Wojtyla in a WW2 game.  Protecting Jews in Krakow, speaking nine languages, participating in an underground seminary -- there's lots of drama there already.

But if you posit that the SS was after the Stoss Altar for embedded clues to the whereabouts of fragments of the One True Cross, or that the looting of Krakow's religious artifacts occurred not merely due to Nazi greed, but instead as an attempt to decipher some of the Vatican's deepest secrets, then a young seminarian acting to help keep those secrets could provide an interesting character in a campaign.

2 comments:

  1. An incredible man. One of those people that proves real life is richer than the richest fantasy.

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  2. @ Matt. You're 100% correct! I hadn't really thought about including him until I ran across his connection to the Stoss Altar. Even if you don't want to go with a Nazis vs. Catholic Secrets element in a game, his story is full of elements for inspiration (both gaming and spiritual).

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