Poland Day Six: Walking In The Footsteps Of A Great Man: Karol Józef Wojtyał
After arriving at the Hotel Grodek in Krakow, I set up my electronics in my room and soon was in the lobby meeting my guide for the afternoon, a friendly and knowledgeable fellow by the name of , Adam. I arranged for him to drive me to Wadowice, the birthplace of my favorite Pope, Pope John Paul II.
Adam spoke fluent English, having taught himself listening to tapes and talking with tourists. We talked about the history and customs of Krakow and Poland as we drove through the busy streets of the city. We soon were on scenic country roads passing small towns and farm lands.
it was a most enjoyable one hour ride and I learned so much about the everyday life of a Polish family as we road through the beautiful countryside.
We tried to visit the hilltop monastery located in the town of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska but the road was closed to traffic because of holy Thursday services.
We soon made our way to the small town of Wadowice, where Karol Jozef Wojtyal was born and roamed the streets as a child. I had admired John Paul II since I first learned of his selection as Pope on a sunny warm October Day while in Philosophy class at King’s College. My philosophy teacher asked any person of Polish decent to stand, wherein, he informed and congratulated on the selection of a Polish Pope.
I have followed this kind, loving and man from that day until the time of his death. I was fortunate to have traveled to Rome and attend his funeral. I have read many of his writings and the biographies written about him. To walk the streets he walked and to see the house he was born in,and the church he attended was a very fulfilling and emotional experience for me.
It was raining as we walked through the town square and entered the church where he attended mass , prayed and served as an altar boy, the church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
There was a service being conducted, but, the priest, when asked by my guide, was kind enough to let me photograph and share this beautiful church. I reflected on how it much have looked to young Karol attending it while a child. Here is a link to some more photographs of the church. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Six-Wadowice-Basilica-Thursday-April-13-2017-
The Pope was born, and was raised in the house next to the church. It was now a museum but, unfortunately the museum had closed for the day.
It was raining so I didn’t get to walk around the town but my guide did take me to a shop where we got enjoy the Pope’s favorite dessert, kremowka. As a boy, he and his friends would save their money to buy and share this cake. It was delicious.
We drove back through the scenic countryside and entered Krakow at the end of the rush hour traffic.
My guide next took me to visit the impressive, and newly built, John Paul II Sanctuary. It was built with the intention of being one of the main shrines devoted to this great man, Pope and recently canonized Saint.
The shrine had many paintings, exhibits and personal possessions of the Pope, including blood stained robe he had worn during the assassination attempt that occurred in May of 1981. The Pope was never quite the same after this incident yet he forgave the man who tried to kill him.
There are many beautiful altars located in the shrine and I wish I had more time to spend and reflect on them. But we had one more stop and so I had to leave this beautiful place dedicated to the life of this saintly man. Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the Sanctuary. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Po;and-Day-Six-Krakow-John-Paul-II-Sanctuary-Thursday-April-13-2017-
We next drove the short distance to the Divine Mercy Sanctuary, which is also the final resting place of the Catholic Saint, Faustina Kowalska.I will confess I did not know much about this Sanctuary or Saint but I knew my mom, a devout Catholic would be glad I stopped to visit.
This Sanctuary was also just built recently. I took a quick tour of the beautiful interior of the sanctuary including a few of the many splendid altars.
We then proceeded to the viewing tower were we took an elevator to the top and were treated with spectacular views of the city of Krakow.
After taking in the view, and a lot of photographs we took a quick walk through the grounds of the sanctuary. Here is a link to some more photographs of the Sanctuary. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Six-Krakow-Sanctuary-of-the-Divine-Mercy-April-13-2017-
and a quick look inside the altar of the older Sanctuary adjacent to the new one. it was not nearing sundown and i was hungry and tired so my guide left me off at the Hotel. I was glad to have met Adam and i learned so much from his informative tour of Wadowice and Krakow. Here is a link to some more photographs from my tour. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Six-Krakow-Sanctuary-of-the-Divine-Mercy-April-13-2017-
It was late, so after a quick shower headed into old town Krakow where I had a nice dinner of, of course pierogi and mushroom soup, at the Wesele restaurant located near the Main Square.
The skies had cleared and, although it was a bit cool, it was a nice night to again stroll the cobblestone streets of old town Krakow.
I wish I could have stayed longer but it was another long day, and i was on the road again in the morning so I had to head back to my hotel. Here is a link to some more photographs from my evening walk. https://keepyoureyespeeled.net/poland-photographs-april-2017/nggallery/poland-april-2017/Poland-Day-Six-Krakow-evening-hike-
“The earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”
― Pope John Paul II