When Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected pope, this small village about 30 miles south of Krakow acquired an unexpected fame.

Wojtyla was born here 58 years ago. He was a good student as a youngster, one of his former teachers tells visiting journalists. In the school he attended there is now a picture of Lenin.

He was also a very good althlete, playing soccer and other games that are left behind with adolescene. But mostly he liked - and still likes - to ski, and the question of how to take a pope skiing is one that seems to intrigue the church hierarchy these days.

Old chums here say that Wojtyla was always a man without material interest. Even as an arch-bishop, they recall, his aides would wash his new shirts so that Wojtyla wouldn't think they were new.

In the village the new pope is respected as a man with an open mind, a listener who takes a good while to make decisions.

He lived here until he finished his basic schooling in 1938.

Later, when he became cardinal and lived in Krakow, Wojtyla kept in touch with his village friends. He was here last March to officiate at the funeral of a friend's wife.

The villagers these days are enjoying the new fame. The local church has been spruced up. The house where Wojtyla was born in kept freshly painted.

The possibility that the first Polish pope in the 1,000-year history of Polish catholicism would return to his native land for a visit is a political problem confronting the communist government in Warsaw.

The reaction of the people, by every estimate, would be overwhelming and perhaps uncontrollable. Twice before, in 1968 and last year, Warsaw politely turned down requests of Pope Paul VI to visit Poland.

Kazimierz Kakol, church-state affairs minister told reporters this week in Warsaw that the new pope would be welcomed - "absolutely" he added under questioning - and that the matter of a visit to his homeland "is in the pope's hand."