IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF THE SAINT JOHN PAUL II
St. John Paul II, the Holy Father whom people looked up to, admired, honoured and many times considered him a “bridge connecting nations & religions”.
During our John Paul II Pilgrimage we will take you on an expedition through the life of Karol Wojtyla, our late, beloved Pope, starting in his birthplace Wadowice, Poland. There you can visit his first family house; the church where he had his confirmation of faith, the schools he attended, and you can even taste his favourite cake. Next, we will transfer to Krakow, a great Polish city in which he spent almost 40 years. Near Krakow, the “Be not Afraid” John Paul II Centre in Lagiewniki has grown up around the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, where there is an Image of Christ that is said to have healing powers.
Our next destination will be the town of Levoča in Slovakia. Here we will follow the footsteps of our Pope in two places. St James’s Church has the largest wooden late-gothic altar in the world and just outside the town, on the hill Marianska hora is basilica minor that was awarded its status by John Paul II and which has become one of world’s leading pilgrimage centres.
We will end our fascinating journey in the way our Holy Father John Paul II used to – we will walk to the mountain hotel Sliezsky Dom in High Tatras, which he loved and admired and where you too will feel our Creator’s presence in the astonishing landscape.
Arrival to Krakow in Poland.
We will transfer from Krakow to Wadowice, the birthplace of Karol Wojtyla, our late beloved Pope John Paul II. You can take a Karol Wojtyla Walking Tour that visits 13 locations.
One of the highlights is his first family home on Kościelna Street, which has been converted into a museum. Karol Jozef Wojtyła, was born in the tiny bedroom of this house on 18 May 1920. The parish church – the Virgin Mary's Offertory Minor Basilica – 15th century, rebuilt in the 18th century, is the oldest church in Wadowice and the scene of Pope John Paul II’s confirmation.
The Town Hall - former men´s primary school, Market square - John Paul II square, the Catholic house, Marcin Medowita grammar school, the school where Karol Wojtila obtained his high school diploma, the Neo-Classical Mikolaj manor – 19th century, the Municipal Museum of Marcin Wadowita, the Cultural Center where Karol Wojtyla used to go to the gym and acted on the biggest stage in town, the Former cake shop of Karol Hagenhuber, where the young Karol used to buy the local cream cake – kremóvka. We can taste kremowka papieska, a favourite cake of Pope John II in a local café.
Afterwards, we will celebrate Holy Mass in the Virgin Mary´s Offertory Minor Basilica.
Krakow is another place connected with the life of Karol Wojtyla. He had lived here for four decades and spent years as a student and then as a young priest, a theologian and a philosopher, a playwright and a poet. A position of a curate at Krakow’s church of St. Florian’s, a university professor, Krakow bishop, cardinal and the Vicar of Christ are evidence of a great personality of Karol Wojtila.
We will visit Wawel Cathedral - The Royal Archcathedral Basilica of Saints Stanislavus and Wenceslaus on the Wawel Hill. In November 1946 in the Crypt of St. Leonard´s under the Wawel Cathedral he offered his first Mass as a priest.
Two adjacent houses in Kanonicza street where Karol Wojtyla lived from 1951 to 1963 have been turned into the Archdiocese Museum with a department devoted to the late Pope. In 1958 he became a bishop and in 1963 the Krakow archbishop. His Eminence Cardinal Karol Wojtyla lived from 1963 to 1978 at the stately Bishops´ Palace at 3 Franciszkanska street. He had lived in the palace as a seminarist in 1945 and was ordained in its chapel in 1946. In 1978 he left for Rome and was elected the Pope.
This day we will visit The "Be Not Afraid!" John Paul II Center (the name refers to JPII’s famous words during his inauguration speech). This small "city within the city", which hosts conferences and accommodate pilgrims, is located in Łagiewniki, close to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy.
At the heart of the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy stands the Chapel of the miraculous image of the Merciful Jesus, also known as the 'Divine Mercy', and the tomb of St. Faustina, who saw a vision of Christ with light emanating from his heart. This image of Christ is said to have miraculous healing powers.
Faustyna Kowalska (1905-1938) was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 2000.
We will move from Poland to Slovakia´s town Levoča, which is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. We will visit the St. James´ Church, which is the dominant of the square. It is the second largest church in Slovakia with the largest wooden late-gothic altar in the world (18.62 m). The altar is the work of Master Paul of Levoča, famous medieval wood-carver. The organ in St.James´s Church was constructed in the 17th century and up to 19th century it was the biggest organ in the Hungary. The other place to admire is Basilica Minor on the hill Marianska hora - the place of annual pilgrimage in July, the greatest in Slovakia. In 2005 Levoča with Marian Hill was chosen by delegates of European Association of Marian Pilgrimage Centres as a member of this association and so it belongs to world pilgrimage centres. The Holy Father John Paul II promoted the church on Mary’s Hill to Basilica Minor on January 26, 1984. The largest pilgrimage took place at the presence of Holy Father John Paul II on July 3, 1995. More than 650,000 joyful pilgrims gathered round the gracious sculpture of the Virgin Mary.
This day we will transfer to High Tatras – Slovakia´s oldest national park and the only mountains of Alpine type in the whole Carpathian Mountain range.
The Mountain Hotel Sliezsky Dom is the highest placed hotel in Slovakia (1, 670 metres above sea level). It is situated directly under Slovakia's highest peak, Gerlachovský štít (2 655 metres).
The hotel has sheltered many tourists, mountaineers and skiers. In 1995, it was visited by Pope John Paul II, who consecrated a wooden cross here. It was placed above the hotel as a mark of respect for the late pope.
John Paul II always felt so close to God in the open air. He believed that the greatness and splendour of nature was a true reflection and perception of the Creator. He admired mountain climbers who faced danger and difficult conditions on the mountains not only for their physical strength but also for their strong will and intelligent passion for beauty.
We will walk to Sliezsky Dom, although it is a more demanding walk.
- Transfer to airport
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