Following the death of his mother, Karol Wojtyla is brought up by his father in the Polish city of Krakow during the first half of the 20th century. When his homeland is invaded by the Nazis in 1939, he secretly opposes the systematic persecution of their Polish culture. With the death of his father, Karol decides to follow a priestly vocation. When Poland falls into the grip of Soviet totalitarianism, the newly ordained Karol is constantly surrounded by young people whom he teaches to safeguard and defend human dignity. He could be considered a serious threat to the regime, but the Communist authorities merely see him as an innocuous intellectual and he becomes the youngest bishop in the history of Poland. When he is appointed Cardinal, Karol is more intransigent in the spiritual guidance of his homeland, becoming a real and proper thorn in the side of the Communist government. On the death of Pope John Paul I in 1978, Karol leaves his beloved Poland to become Pope John Paul II.