There are few items in the Papal Artifacts’ Collection to compare with this rare acquisition of a note-card, written entirely in his own hand and signed by Pope John Paul in January, 1967, with the affectionate term, Wujek (Uncle).
The Story of the Endearing Term, “Wujek” (Uncle) for Beloved Saint John Paul II:
While a priest in Kraków, groups of students regularly joined Wojtyła for hiking, skiing, bicycling, camping and kayaking, accompanied by prayer, outdoor Masses and theological discussions.
In Stalinist-era Poland, it was not permitted for priests to travel with groups of students. Father Wojtyła asked his younger companions to call him “Wujek” (Polish for “Uncle”) to prevent outsiders from deducing he was a priest.
The nickname gained popularity among his followers. In 1958, when Wojtyła was named auxiliary bishop of Kraków, his acquaintances expressed concern that this would cause him to change.
Wojtyła responded to his friends, “Wujek will remain Wujek,” and he continued to live a simple life, shunning the trappings that came with his position as Bishop.
This beloved nickname stayed with Wojtyła for his entire life and continues to be affectionately used, particularly by the Polish people.