Famous Poles

Pope John Paul II

Jan Paweł IIThe most known Pole in the world was born on May 18th, 1920 in Wadowicach. Karol Wojtyła was the younger son of an army officer. He was raised in a very religious family, in a house fill of warmth, peace and love. He was interested in art, sports and skiing. He was frequently found in the mountains. In 1939 he moved to Krakow where he started university studies at the Jagiellonian University. He played an active role in theatre life, and he also wrote a series of poems.

Once he became the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, he was the second longest pontificate after Pius IX. He has been the only Polish pope, and the first non-Italian pope since Adrian VI, who was Dutch, in the 1520s. Pope John Paul ll was pope during a period where the Catholic Church’s influence declined in developed countries, but expanded in the Third World. The pope traveled extensively during his reign, visiting more than 100 countries, many more than any of his predecessors, which makes him one of the most-travelers world leaders in history. He was fluent in ten languages, Polish, Italian, French, German, English, Spanish, Croatian, Portuguese, Russian and Latin.
Pope John Paul ll worked to promote great understand within Christianity, and tolerance between Christians, Jews and Muslims.

On may 13, 1981, the pope was shot and severely wounded by an attempted assassination. Although wounded badly, he recovered quickly and resumed travelling to schedule. The attack gave birth to the Pope Mobile, with bullet proof glass. He visited the would be assassin in 1983 in jail, where they spoke for about 20 minutes. He forgave the man, and claimed to escaped the death with the help of the Blessed Virgin of Fatima. The Pope began to slow his lifestyle with the increase of health problems. He survived a battle with cancer, but his Parkinson’s Disease has the most obvious impact on his lifestyle. Due to his health problems, there were occasionally arguments about the possibility of him resigning, however no such thing happened. CNN stated that “it is doubtful that there has ever been a pope who has successfully translated his strength, determination and faith into such widespread respect and goodwill”. Pope John Paul II had been an influential figure at the moral centre of modern life.

Adam Mickiewicz

Adam MickiewiczMickiewicz was a Polish romantic poet and playwright. He was born in Nowogródek, which was then apart of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He studied at the University of Vilna where he was arrested and investigated for political activities he was involved with. He was deported to Russia. After the five years of exile in Russia, he was permitted to travel - deciding never to return to Russia or his native land if it was under the Imperial Russian government. He was a literature professor in Lausanne and Paris. He organized audiences for Polish liberation during the revolutionary upheavals and Crimean War. He died during a cholera epidemic in Constantinople in 1855. He donated a great deal to the stature Polish literature, his emotive verse expressed romantic holes to his soul and life mysteries. Throughout his works, he employed various Polish folk themes. Some of his major works include:

  1. The Books of the Polish Nation and of Polish Pilgrimage,
  2. Konrad Wallenrod,
  3. The Forefathers,
  4. the famous Pan Tadeusz.

Fryderyk Chopin

Fryderyk ChopinBorn in Warsaw in 1810, Chopin was a virtuosi pianist of the romantic period. He is known as the greatest Polish composer. Chopin is known for his style which emphasizes nuance and expressive depth.

He was educated with a Mozart-ian piano technique. I After moving to France at the age of 20, he continued his career as composer and a piano teacher. He died in Paris in 1849.

Chopin created musical forms such as the Ballad. His works remain some of the greatest of the romantic period. It has been said that Chopin demonstrates his Polish sprit at every possible step. Chopin also improvised music which accompanied Polish texts.

Jan Matejko

Jan MatejkoThe famous Polish painter from the XIX century. He was born in Krakow in 1838.

Matejko demonstrated great talent in art from an early age. Matejko was famous for his paintings which portrayed famous Polish political and military events.

His most famous paintings include Battle of Grunwald, Ubiory w Polsce (Clothing in Poland), Copernicus, as well as many other court and battle scenes.

Maria Skłodowska Curie

CurieThe Polish physicist and chemist pioneered the field of radioactivity and as awarded a Davy medal and two Nobel Peace prizes.

She was born in Warsaw, and moved to Paris at the age of 24, where she gained French citizenship. Although a loyal French citizen, she strongly embraced her Polish heritage.

After being one of the first female graduates in her filed, she was also one of the first females to become a professor. Albert Einstein is said to have quoted that she is the only person who is not corrupted by the fame that she gained.

Nicolas Copernicus

Mikołaj KopernikThe Polish astronomer was born in 1473 in Torun. He was the first to disprove that the earth was centre of the universe.

Copernicus’s famous book, The Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres he used his theory of heliocentric cosmology to negate the central importance of earth in a universal perspective.

Although greatly criticized at his time, Copernicus is seen as the godfather of modern Astronomy and a man who is very influential.