PLACES OF WORSHIP & FOOTSTEPS OF POPE John Paul II
In Poland there are many places of worship and numerous sanctuaries visited by pilgrims from all over the world. Many religious holidays observed in Poland are often accompanied by local celebrations or traditional colorful festivities. Another way of expressing religious beliefs are different processions, misterium, theatre inscenisations of religious caracter organized by parishes on the occasion of different feasts.
Czestochowa is one of the most important sacred places in the Christian world. It has a pilgrimage tradition dating XIV c. Every year more than 4 million pilgrims visits this miracoulous place. From the beggining Czestochowa became a spiritual capital of religious Poland. The monastery was built from a white rock and this was the origin of
The name Jasna Gora (light mountain). The object of worship is the miraculous painting of
Madonna with the Baby in the medieval tradition. It became famous because of heroic defense during the Polish-Swedish wars in the seventeenth century.
Among the picturesque hills, 40 kilometers from Krakow, there is the monastery of the Fathers Bernardins founded by the aristocratic family of Zebrzydowski. After Czestochowa it is the 2nd important centre of religious pilgrimage in Poland.
On the south from the convent, on the area of 300 hectars, there are numerous hilly paths
creating the Passion Path with 42 chapels ( they are also small churches).
The 17th-century Baroque church of the Angelic Mother of God adjoins the Franciscan monastery of the same age. Their most sacred place is the chapel with the miraculous painting Our Lady of Kalwaria, followed by the chapel of St. Anthony of Padua
Since 1613 many feasts are organized there. The most important one is the Passion Misterium and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin.
Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki
The convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy is situated in the suberbs of Krakow, in Lagiewniki district.
It was founded in 1891 by the prince Lubomirski for girls and women in need of a deep moral renewal. The cult of Divine Mercy was caused by the revelations of modest Sister Faustina Kowalska. In 1935 Jesus Christ appeard to Sister Faustina and asked her to spread in the whole world the message of Divine Mercy. The cult began to develop after the death of Sister Faustina, mainly during the 2nd world war. The famous painting of Divine Mercy was painted by Polish painter Adolf Hyla. The image quickly became well-know for many graces.The number of pilgrims has been growing each year. They visited not only the painting but also the tomb of Sister Faustina located in the Sanctuary of God’s Mercy in Lagiewniki. Sister Faustina was canonized on the 30th April 2000. Under the image of Merciful Jesus there is a sarcophagus with a small shrine whery are the relicts of the saint.
The footsteps of Pope John Paul II in Poland
Pope John Paul II was born in Wadowice, the city situated 50 km from Cracow.
Next to the church where Karol Wojtyla was baptized there is his family home, transformed into a museum with personal things and souvenirs of the Pope.
In 1938 he moved to Cracow and started to study filosophy at the Jagiellonian University. Starting from 1942, poczul powolanie and took part in numerous seminarium.
After the II world war he continued the seminar studies till he was ordained as a priest in 1946. ln 1958 he was nominated the bishop of Cracow and in 1967 the cardinal.
There are numerous places in Krakow associated to the Pope: Bishops Palace
with the famous “Pope Window” from which he greeted the habitants of Cracow during his trips to Poland ; the Kanonicza Street where there is the bishop residence and the Museum of Cracow Archidiocese; the St. Stanislaw & Venceslao cathedral; the church of St. Florian where the Pope was working as a priest from 1951 till 1958.
Places of Memory
Oswiecim, situated 70 km from Cracow, is better known by its german name: Auschwitz, famous as the biggest nazi concentration camp.
The camp was founded in 1940 for Polish political prisoners. Initialy it’s role was the intimidation and extermination of Poles. Gradually the nazists started people deportation
from all over the Europe, mainly Jews from different countries. As the number of prisoners was still increasing, the camp kept on enlarging. It became the bigest extermination camp
in the world.
In 1941 the Nazist started to build another camp situated 3 km form Auschwitz. It’s name was Birkenau, KL Auschwitz II.
Nowadays both camps ae transfigured into museums and places of memory.
The most important points of interests are the ruins of crematoria and gas chambers,
the platform where the trains with prisoners arrived and the Block of Death.