Krakow is now our base.
Day outing to Wadowice the birthplace of St. John Paul II. It is in the lovely rolling hills of Lesser Poland. We pass thru small villages with well-kept houses. We pass by little roadside monuments with crosses and flowers that dot Poland everywhere. People stop and pray here.
We find ourselves in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains. Karol Wojtyla, the future JPII was an outdoors man who enjoyed hiking, skiing and camping here. We arrive in his home town. After Mass in Presentation Basilica, we tour his family home next door which is now a museum. I learn that JPII studied the theology of mystic St. John of the Cross. He learned what it means to be Man. His papal mission became to unite Man with the Church.
On the way back to Krakow, we stop at the Calvary (Kalvaria) Sanctuary. High on a hill this 400 year old site is one of the largest pilgrimage centres in Poland. It houses the Our Lady of Calvary image, a basilica and a monastery. There are also a complex of chapels, shrines, statues and bridges connected by paths. JPII came here many times as Archbishop of Krakow and as Pope.
Krakow, was the capital of Poland until 1609. Today 750k pop., 16 universities and colleges, 250k students!
St Mary’s Church, first parish in Krakow, 14th century
St Stanislaw, first Bishop in Poland. Was beheaded in 1079 during Mass. Relics entombed in crypt. President of Poland and his entourage died in a mysterious plane crash in Russia. The facts of this tragedy have not been made public yet.
In the castle we learn people used to sleep sitting up in the 15th century. It was dangerous to sleep flat as you might die overnight. There are numerous tapestries, woven with gold and silver threads that took years to make. They are sequenced to tell the biblical story e.g., Genesis. We are blown away by their beauty and magnificence! These tapestries were stolen by Catherine the Great. Later, Poland was able to buy them back. During the war the collection was stored in Canada for safekeeping.
Large painting of the sea battle of Lepanto. 17th century Baroque section filled with large paintings. The Polish monarchy was the 2nd richest in all Europe at its apex.
Prayer procession to the JPII Centre Shrine. Built 2008-10 as a monument from Poland to JPII. The Church of Mary’s – all the Mary’s JPII visited around the world.
A fantastic homily from Fr. John which can be summarized as:
God created Man rational and free. If you choose Jesus Christ, you choose eternal life. If you choose any other path, you choose eternal death.