As we near year end, I would like to reminisce about some of the wonderful experiences we have had this year.
Wadowice is a town about an hour away from Krakow. It is the birthplace of St. John Paul II. We spent a delightful few hours there in May. It is a lively place.
On the way back to Krakow, we stopped at Kalvaria Zebrzydowska, a famous Franciscan Marian shrine.
It was established in 1600 to provide pilgrims with a substitute of Jerusalem lost to the Muslim Turks and thus unavailable at the time. With its 42 churches and chapels of all shapes and sizes in addition to the central basilica and the Franciscan monastery, the vast complex of buildings scattered among woods on the slopes of the 527-meter-high Zar mountain grew to be the biggest such compound in Europe. Over the ages the pilgrimage to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska influenced millions of Poles. We toured the facility, had lunch and wondered up the hill where JPII used to come, exercise and pray.
It is hard to underestimate the cumulative affect these pilgrim sites and group experiences had on us while we were in Poland. We felt connected to God and others in a deeper way thanks to the powerful witness of the Polish people in their humble devotion to Jesus, Mary and God. Pope St. John Paul II’s goal was to reunite man with God and the Church. For us, he succeeded.