We will depart in transit to Warsaw.
Upon arrival in Warsaw our Spiritual Journey representative will meet us and we will be transfered to the hotel where we will check-in. We will conclude our day of travel with dinner in the hotel restaurant.
Today we will have a full day of sightseeing. We will start our tour of Warsaw with the church of St. Stanislaw Kostka where Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko, leader in solidarity worked and is now buried. He was martyred in October 1984 in retaliation for his stance against oppression. We will gain some context here for the life and times of Karol Wojtyla who was to become His Holiness John Paul II. Here in the Church of St. Stanislaw Kostka we will celebrate the opening Mass of our journey. After Mass we will continue with an orientation tour of the city. You may recall that most of this city was destroyed in World War II, leaving few of the old historic buildings that one normally would find in a European city.
Next we will see the 15th century Gothic castle that served as the seat of the kings of Poland. It was here that the Third of May Constitution was promulgated in 1791, second only to the United States’ Constitution. We will then visit St. John’s Cathedral and walk through the Market Square where we will be able to have a break for tea or cake at one of the fine restaurants or do some shopping at the gift shops or galleries.
After our break, we will pass the late-Gothic structure by John Baptist of Venice — the Barbican. In the New Town Market we will see where Maria Sklodowska-Curie was born (Madame Curie). At Krasinski Square, we will stop by the Monument of Warsaw’s Uprising and drive to see the Ghetto Memorial. Here we will get panoramic views of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Warsaw’s Grand Opera and National Theatre House erected by Antonio Corazzi. On a cultural note, we will pay our respects to Poland’s prize composer, Frederic Chopin, as we visit the Baroque church housing his ashes. We will have a short stop at the Royal Lazienki Park to see the Monument of Frederick Chopin.
Tonight, after dinner at a local restaurant, we will enjoy a private Chopin concert at the Palace on the Water. Following the concert we will make our way back to the hotel where we will spend the rest of the evening.
In the morning we will drive to the village of Niepokalanow, home to the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a Conventual Franciscan Friary founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, O.F.M Conv., presently one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Poland. After viewing a short history of Christianity in Poland we celebrate Mass.
We will continue to Czestochowa where we visit Jasna Gora Monastery, the most important place of religious worship in the Polish Catholic world. The site dates from the 14th century. In recent years nearly five million pilgrims have visited the Monastery to see the miraculous Black Madonna. Its tradition began when Prince Ladislaus II of Opole invited Pauline monks to Poland. He gave them Jasna Gora hill and a small church under the invocation of Holy Virgin Mary. The prince presented them with the miraculous picture of Our Lady, which was supposedly painted by Luke the Evangelist on a wooden plank from the table on which the Holy Family dined. However, the newest research proves that it was a Byzantine icon from the 6th or 7th century. During the Hussite wars in 1430, the monastery was sacked and robbed and the picture profaned. To this day, one can see the sword-cuts on the cheek of the Madonna. In the year 1717, the picture was crowned with papal diadem and was called the picture of “Black Madonna.” Here local monks will welcome us to give us a private tour of the monastery and the treasury. We will close our day with dinner in the hotel.
In the morning we will celebrate Mass at the Chapel of the Black Madonna. After Mass we travel to Wadowice, the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. The family home of the young Karol Wojtyla is now a museum which displays many interesting curios from the Pope’s life. Our visit here will provide us with an entertaining, anecdotal panorama of the humble life of one of the greatest figures of the 20th century. Closeby to the family’s home is the parish church which Wojtyla attended in his youth.
This afternoon we will continue to Zakopane, which is nestled high up in Tatras mountains. The combination of beautiful landscape and quaint shopping areas make this a favorite getaway spot for all the Poles. We will make our way back to the hotel where we will close our day and enjoy a dinner together.
This morning we will make our way to the Sanctuary of the Holy Virgin of Fatima, a chapel that was constructed in 1999 in appreciation for Pope John Paul II’s survival of an assassination attempt. We will celebrate Mass here. We will then continue our tour with a cable car ride to the heights of Mt. Gobuwlka for a stunning view of the Tatras Mountains and the town of Zakopane. Later we will drive by Villa Atma, once the home of the famous Polish composer Karol Szymanowski. Our tour also includes a stop at the Wladyslaw Hasior Art Gallery, which displays amazing assemblages by this avant-garde artist. At the completion of our tour we will come to the always busy Krupówki, the central mall lined with restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and souvenir shops. Tonight we will conclude our day at a local restaurant in Zakopane.
This morning we will leave Zakopane and head for the city of Krakow, where then Karol Wojtyla served as Archbishop prior to being elected Pope of the worldwide Roman Catholic community. Along the way, we will stop in Wieliczka to visit the oldest salt mine in Europe, which has been in operation since the 13th century. This UNESCO treasure now serves as a museum and contains an impressive display of chambers, galleries, and unique salt works. We will descend 54 floors below the surface to view the labyrinthine mines and the Church of St. Kinga, which was created entirely from salt!
From Wieliczka, we will continue to a place where as a young man, Wojtyla came to pray and reflect upon his life and service to God. In the lush, green hills of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, we will find the famous Calvary paths, an intertwining mesh of churches, chapels and wayside shrines originally built to replicate the city of Jerusalem. These structures are the only examples (except of Gdansk) of Dutch Renaissance architecture in Poland. We will celebrate Mass here before we continue to Krakow to wrap up our day with dinner in the hotel.
This morning we will have a tour of Krakow including a visit of Kazimierz and the Dominican Church. Krakow, the ancient capital of Poland, has been settled since the Stone Age. In 1038, the city became the capital, and Polish monarchs took up their residence in its Wawel Royal Castle which we will also visit. The Old Town historical district in Krakow’s heart is actually the medieval city established in 1257 by Prince Boleslav V, the ruler of Poland at the time. Krakow has preserved its original grid of streets arranged around the huge central Grand Square, with the Cathedral Church of St. Waclaw and Bishop Stanislaus. In the middle of the square is the Cloth Hall, built before 1349, and altered in the 16th century. Inside are many shopping stalls, which you will have time to visit. The Cloth Hall sits in the shadow of the magnificent gothic church of Our Lady with the famous wooden altar created by Wit Stwosz. We will take a short coffee break at the famous “Jama Michalika.” This coffee shop is popular for its unique history with artists, writers, and other entertainers who have decorated its walls with various drawings, pictures, and other stained glass renditions.
At Krakow University, we will see the first map of the world depicting North America as a continent. We will also pass by the shoe factory where young Karol Wojtyla worked during the Nazi occupation of Poland. We will have the opportunity to walk down Kanonicza Street, passing by some of Krakow’s historical buildings. We pause at building 21, “Deanery” where Pope John Paul II resided while in Krakow. Then we will proceed to Market Square where we visit the Mariacki Church. You will have time for lunch at a restaurant of your choice before we visit the Franciscan Church. The Franciscan Order arrived in Krakow in 1237. Later, a monastery was founded on this site of the town, and in 1260 work began on a church. We will celebrate Mass at this church and later will enjoy the evening with dinner in a local restaurant.
Today our visit will be quite austere, as we take a step back into one of the darkest moments in the 20th century. We will make our way to Oswiecim to the Nazi concentration camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Considered one of the largest and most heinous camps, this was the site where approximately 1.5 million people lost their lives, among them mostly Jews.
When the camp was liberated in 1945, fleeing German troops attempted to destroy it, but they were unsuccessful. Allied troops discovered about 7,000 remaining prisoners, all in desolate condition. Auschwitz-Birkenau remains an example of the destruction of World War II and the hate of one man. Today the site serves as a museum and is included on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Our visit will include the cell of St. Maximilian Kolbe, O.F.M. Conv., who gave his life in substitution for a prisoner who was to be executed. We will celebrate Mass this afternoon in a nearby church named after this saint. After Mass we will make the journey back to Krakow where you will have the rest of the day free. We will conclude our day at the hotel for dinner.
This morning we will visit the Convent of Sisters of Mercy in Lagiewniki where Saint Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy, lived and died. We will enjoy the tour of the Convent guided by one of the sisters and we will also celebrate Mass here. Early in the afternoon we will make our way to Warsaw. Once we arrive in Warsaw we will enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
In the morning we will be transferred to the Warsaw airport for our return flight back home.
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