Pilgrim’s Guide – in the steps of Patron Saints of WYD Krakow 2016

Pilgrim’s Guide – in the steps of Patron Saints of WYD Krakow 2016


It’s autumn here in Krakow, just a tad more windy, perpetually wet, and of course a little bit colder. But come winter, and then spring and we’ll be back right here in the city’s market square counting down the final hours to WYD Krakow 2016. To get a glimpse into St. John Paul II’s life, we’ll be visiting the sites that shaped Karol Wojtyła and lead him on the path to priesthood and later to Rome as Pontiff. For WYD 2016 pilgrims looking for various places to visit and seeking to immerse themselves in the life of St. John Paul II, this is a good place to get started. So let’s get going before it starts to rain again. A little over an hour from Krakow is the birthplace and childhood home of Karol Wojtyła. As Pope John Paul II famously said during his 1999 pilgrimage to Poland: “In Wadowice, this is where it all began.” Indeed, steps away from the family home stands the church where he was baptized and served as an altar boy. Since the beatification of Pope John Paul II, one of the proudest days in the town’s history, the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary is steadily becoming a major pilgrimage site. Another reason why Wadowice will be an attractive destination for pilgrims during World Youth Day: the Family Home of John Paul II. The apartment where the young Karol Wojtyła was born and raised up until the age of 18 with his father, has been transformed into a modern-day museum, housing common childhood souvenirs, mementos from Karol Wojtyła’s priesthood and replicas from Rome among many other expositions, such as the World Youth Day room. The expanse of the museum, making use of the remaining floors where the Wojtyła family’s neighbors lived as well as the interactive multimedia is sure to offer a one of a kind experience. And don’t forget to sign the guestbook. A half hour away from Wadowice is Kalwaria Zebrzydowska And at the highest elevated point of the village lies The Basilica of St. Mary looked after by the Bernardines. Inside the basilica is the icon of St. Mary of Kalwaria All of Pope John Paul II’s adoration and prayers gravitated towards St. Mary of Kalwaria when he visited the monastery during his first, and last visit to Poland. Pope John Paul II’s deep veneration for this 400 years old pilgrimage site is rooted in his adolescent days, as this was where Karol and his father travelled to take part in the annual reenactments of the Passion and Crucifixion. The Stations of the Cross are represented as chapels scattered all across the hilly terrain that vaguely resembles the topography of Jerusalem in the Holy Land. Traversing through this landscape, Karol Wojtyła, motherless since the age of 9 dwelled in deep prayer and meditation at Kalwaria. This, was his infinite source of solace and comfort. Upon arriving to Kraków, Karol Wojtyła begins his studies at the Jagiellonian University. Together with his father, they lived in a small, modest home not too far from the shores of the Vistula river in the neighborhood of Dębniki. Karol and his Father attended Mass at the nearby church belonging to the Salesians. It was a this church, that Karol Wojtyła found a parish to call a home or a home to call a parish. Within the prayer circle called “The Living Rosary”, religious services always had a special dedication to St. Mary, Advocate of the Faithful (Mary Help of Christians). The individual who would later strengthen Karol Wojtyła’s faith even further and inspire him to walk the path towards priesthood was a man by the name of Jan Tyranowski, a self-propelled scholar, hobbyist, polyglot, and even a hiker. Jan would later be designated as a Servant of God, the first of four stages to Sainthood. Under his wing and guidance, Karol Wojtyła was able to come a certain realization one that he would carry with him for the rest of his life. “However convinced I was that St. Mary helps to lead us to Jesus Christ little did I know, that through Christ, we should be lead directly to Mary herself…” (JP II memoir) Further south of the Vistula River is the Divine Mercy Sanctuary located in the district of Łagiewniki. Karol Wojtyła frequently prayed at the monastery complex run by the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy as it was not too far from the chemical plant where he worked. Later as pope, he consecrated the newly built basilica in 2002 which is dedicated to the Divine Mercy devotion. The significance of the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy is rooted in the life and work of St. Sister Faustyna Kowalska. Sister Faustyna Kowalska was a mystic and writer of the world renowned Message of the Divine Mercy, she died at the young age of 33. And if that name sounds familiar, that’s because St. Faustyna is the patron saint of World Youth Day Krakow 2016 alongside St. John Paul II, which is why St. Faustyna is mentioned in the Official World Youth Day Krakow 2016 prayer. Allow the spark of merciful love
that you have enkindled within us become a fire that can transform hearts
and renew the face of the earth. Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us. Saint John Paul II, pray for us. Saint Faustina, pray for us. Devout Catholics all around the world send their intentions to this Polish saint when they recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion,
Have mercy on us and on the whole world. Holy God, Holy Mighty One Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Our next stop is the Bishop’s Palace located one small medieval street away from the Main Market Square. The Bishop’s Palace is the official residence of the bishops in Krakow. As a young seminarian during German occupation up until the end of World War II, Karol Wojtyła sought refuge here to avoid being captured and imprisoned. During his papal visits to Poland, enormous crowds would gather in front of the palace palace just as they would in St. Peter’s Square. At night, he would deliver sermons and talk with his fellow Poles. Because the front of Bishop’s Palace has no balcony, Pope John Paul II had to stand at the base of the window. At the eastern end of the city is a gigantic and undeveloped green meadow. In the past Błonia Field served as open space for athletic events and outdoor expositions as well as military drills Even further back, it was used as a pasture for Krakow’s sheep and cattle. This patch of green grass in an otherwise urbanized city was used as the site for Pope John Paul II’s meetings with people and Holy Mass. For that reason it can in a way be looked at as Krakow’s largest church. To commemorate all the meetings Pope John Paul II had with the faithful, a monolith of a rock was placed at the edge of Błonia Field. The rock is one of only two monuments found within the boundaries of this grassy field and there are no plans to build any kind of buildings on this site as it has been labeled a historical landmark. The list of places you can visit for yourself during World Youth Day Krakow 2016 is of course much larger than thisl We’ll make sure to keep you informed in the coming months so you can enrich your itinerary. That being said, SEE YOU IN KRAKOW

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