Happy 100th Birthday, Saint John Paul II!
*Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Karol Jozef Wojtyla*
Get an inside look at his Bishopric in Krakow, that led to his election to the Papacy, Beatification, and Canonization
Spiritual Director: Monsignor Hilary Franco
May 16 - 23, 2020
*Optional Pre Tour to Warsaw: May 14 - 17, 2020
Your trip includes
- Round-trip airfare
- All airport taxes & fuel surcharges
- Centrally located Four Star Hotel hotels: (or similar)
- ~ 6 nights: May 17 - 23: Andel's Vienna House or Holiday Inn, Krakow
- Transfers as per itinerary on a group basis
- Breakfast and Dinner daily
- Wine with dinners
- Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach
- Assistance of a professional local Catholic guide(s)
- Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary
- Catholic Priest available for Spiritual Direction
- Mass daily & spiritual activities
- Luggage handling (1 piece per person)
- Flight bag & portfolio of all travel documents
- Meals not mentioned, Tips to your guide & driver, Items of a personal nature.
Sat, May 16: Depart for Krakow
Make your way to your local airport where you will board your overnight flight(s) to Krakow. Your meals will be served on board.
Sun, May 17: Arrive in Krakow
Welcome to Krakow, Poland! Upon arrival, make your way to the baggage claim area and collect your luggage. Proceed to the arrival's hall, where you will be greeted by your tour guide and/or driver. We will begin our pilgrimage by celebrating Mass at Saint Stanislaus on the Rock Church (tbd). As the first native Polish Saint, St. Stanislaus is one of the Patron Saints of Poland, Krakow, and many other Polish diocese. He shares the patronage of Poland with Saint Adalbert and Our Lady the Queen of Poland. Transfer to your hotel. Following check-in at your hotel, enjoy a delicious dinner and have the opportunity to explore the city of Krakow before retiring for a restful overnight.
Mon, May 18: Krakow
Special Event: Celebrate St. John Paul II's 100th Birthday!
Your day will begin with breakfast followed by the start of our tour of Krakow at the Wawel Hill, the former "Seat of Power" of Polish monarchs. There, we will visit the Wawel Cathedral - the Polish principal national shrine. The Cathedral served as the seat for Karol Wojtyla, the future Saint Pope John Paul II, during this tenure as the Archbishop of Krakow. His connection with this Shrine goes even further, as it was in the St. Leonard's Crypt where he said his first Mass as a young priest. Continue on to Krakow's Old Town and stroll through Kanonicza Street where the future Pope resided while living in Krakow. Visit the Archdiocesan Museum where you can see personal memorabilia and belongings of the Priest, Karol Wojtyla, but also numerous gifts received by him during his time as the head of the Catholic Church. Afterwards, we will see the famous Papal Window, in which during his visits to Krakow he would often make evening appearances to address the crowds of his followers gathered below. Pass by the Franciscan Church, where as a young Priest he often came for tranquility in prayer, and explore the Collegium Maius where he studied. Finally, we will conclude the tour in the main Market Square, and the Church of St. Mary, home to the biggest wooden altar in Europe. You will have free time to get lunch on your own before we continue on your tour of Krakow. We will cross the Wisla River and pass by the house in Debniki where Saint John Paul II lived as a student, and was forced by the Nazi occupation force to work at the nearby Zakrzowek quarry while he was studying at an underground seminary. Finally, we will explore the district of Nowa Huta. This unique district, complete with steelworks and houses built by the Soviet's regime in the Socialist Realist style with many Renaissance influences, was meant to be a model "Communist City". Ironically, it later became one of the centers of revolution and resistance within Poland, leading to the eventual overthrow of the communist regime in Poland. As local Bishop and Cardinal, Karol Wojtyla played a pivotal role in this transformation. For years, he met with local people and helped them organize spiritually and celebrated open air Masses with them. He fought hard for the first Catholic Church to be constructed in this area, which led to the construction of the Church of Our Lady of Poland, also known as "Ark Church" or "The Ark of Our Lord". The Church was built, brick by brick, by volunteer workers with no assistance from the communist authorities. We will celebrate Mass, and then return to the Hotel in time for dinner. After dinner, we will blow out the candles on the famous, Papieska Kremowka ('Papal' Cream Cake), which was Saint John Paul II's favorite dessert. Retire to your room for a restful nights sleep.
Tues, May 19: Krakow - Auschwitz - Harmeze - Wadowice - Zalwaria Zebrzydowska - Krakow
This morning, you will enjoy a full breakfast followed a by a transfer to Auschwitz, notoriously known as a Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War. Upon arriving at the former camp, you can feel the darkness and sorrow that overtakes the atmosphere as there were numerous unspeakable atrocities that occurred at this site. Additionally, while on this visit, you will have the opportunity to view the cell that imprisoned the Christ-like, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and visit the Martyrdom Museum. Afterwards, we will pass by the Birkenau Camp, the site of the martyrdom of Edit Stein, St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (one of the Patron Saints of Europe). Later, we visit the nearby Franciscan Monastery of Harmeze, consecrated under the patronage of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Here, you can explore a Special Exhibition in the St. Maximilian Centre that tells the story of the life work of the martyred Saint. In the afternoon, we will make our way to the small town of Wadowice, the birthplace of Karol Wojtyla. During your visit, consider having another slice of the famous Papieska Kremowka ('Papal' cream cake), homemade in the very town he had them. You will have free time for Lunch on your own before we visit the family house of St. John Paul II at Koscielna Street. It has since been turned into a museum, with exhibits of the Wojtyla family's former possessions. After which we will visit the local church where this beloved Saint was baptized, received his First Communion Sacrament, and attended Masses as a child. You will also have the chance to see the miraculous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, in front of which Saint John Paul II prayed to daily. Now, the church is known as the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Celebrate Mass, and then begin our return to Krakow. Along the way, we will stop at Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, which was a popular pilgrimage place for Saint John Paul II when he was a younger, and where in the 17th century, the Palatine of Krakow founded a Franciscan Monastery. On the slope of both the hill and the valley - is an architectural 'Way of the Cross' made up of 40 chapels set on the surrounding hills. Arrive back at your hotel in Krakow for dinner and a restful overnight.
Wed, May 20: Krakow - Zakopane - Krakow
After an early morning breakfast, we will drive through the Tatra mountains and Podhale region to the small and remote town of Zakopane. It is considered the capital of Polish winter sports, but also an important spiritual place on the map of Poland. The people of the region always shared a special connection with Saint Pope John Paul II. Upon arrival, make your way to the Sanctuary of the Holy Virgin of Fatima, a chapel constructed in 1999 as a votive offering for Saint John Paul II's quick recovery after the assassination attempt. The Shrine was enlarged over the years, and it contains relics of the Saint Pope and many memorabilia, including the special field altar, which was used to celebrate a field Mass by Saint John Paul II in 1997 during his last visit to Zakopane. Celebrate Mass at the Shrine, and then continue on to the Jaszczurowka Chapel. This beautiful wooden chapel was visited many times by St. John Paul II. As a young boy, he often used the walking paths surrounding the chapel for prayer and reflection. Then visit the nearby Retreat House run by the local Ursuline Sisters. During his frequent visits to Zakopane, the future heir of St. Peter most often relied on the Sisters humble hospitality. As Pope, he visited the sisters only once, during his pilgrimage to Poland in 1997. He often declared a special connection to this Retreat House, and called it "his second home" on several occasions. The room in which he stayed is preserved basically untouched, and serves as small museum celebrating his memory. Afterwards, continue our tour to the colorful Krupowki Street. While on this street, you will have the opportunity to do some shopping at the local bazaar, and then grab lunch on your own. From here, we will take a funicular to the nearby Gubalowka, for the stunning view of the Tatra Mountains and panoramic views of Zakopane. You will have the chance to sense a glimpse of Saint Pope's love of nature, and better understand his passion for taking scenic hikes through these mountains. Return to Krakow in time for dinner and overnight.
Thurs, May 21: Krakow - Divine Mercy - Lagiewniki - Wieliczka - Krakow
After breakfast, you will head to Lagiewniki, the capital of the Divine Mercy. Through the mediation of St. Faustina, Christ passed on the message of Divine Mercy at Lagiewniki. We will start our visit to the "Have No Fear" Center where we will be able to pray by the relic of St. John Paul II, with time after for additional prayer and reflection. We will celebrate Mass here in one of the Chapels. Last month marked the 20th Anniversary of Divine Mercy Sunday, and the day St. John Paul II Canonized Saint Faustina Kowalska - let us reflect on one of the greatest gifts given to the Catholic Church, and the words spoke by St. John Paul II on that day:
Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo. Let us too, the pilgrim Church, join our voice to the voice of Mary most holy, "Mother of Mercy", to the voice of this new Saint who sings of Mercy with all God's friends in the heavenly Jerusalem.
And you, Faustina, a gift of God to our time, a gift from the land of Poland to the whole Church, obtain for us an awareness of the depth of Divine Mercy; help us to have a living experience of it and to bear witness to it among our brothers and sisters. May your message of light and hope spread throughout the world, spurring sinners to conversion, calming rivalries and hatred, and opening individuals and nations to the practice of brotherhood. Today, fixing our gaze with you on the face of the risen Christ, let us make our own your prayer of trusting abandonment and say with firm hope: Christ Jesus, I trust in you! Jezu, ufam tobie!
Then, visit the Divine Mercy Shrine where Saint Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy, lived and died. Through her meditation, Christ passed on the message of Divine Mercy and gave her instructions to spread the message among His flock. While here, you can listen to a special lecture done by one of the local Sisters, and you will have the opportunity to see images of the Merciful Jesus, relics of St. Faustina, as well as the Saint's Convent Chapel and her Tomb. There will be additional time for prayer and reflection before we return to Krakow for some free time to spend at your own leisure (lunch or exploring.) In the evening, we will be transferred to a Special Dinner taking place at a Restaurant that includes Music, and Folklore. Return to the Hotel for dinner and overnight.
Fri, May 22: Krakow - Czestochowa - Wieliczka - Krakow
Special Visit to the Jasna Gora Monastery Library
Today, you will visit the grandest pilgrimage shrine of Poland since the 14th century! You will begin your day with breakfast and then transfer to celebrate Mass at Jasna Gora Monastery. This hill-top monastery is home to the beloved icon of the Black Madonna. Additionally, St. John Paul II is said to have made frequent visits to this monastery throughout his life. Tradition tells us that this icon was painted by Luke the Evangelist, discovered by St. Helen, and later enshrined. While here, you will have the opportunity to venerate not only the Holy Icon, but also many other priceless treasures that are contained within. Following your prayerful visit to the Chapel of the Black Madonna, we will have the great privilege of visiting the Library. This 18th-century library is richly decorated, and houses an unmatched collection of old, precious manuscripts dating back to the medieval times. Return to celebrate Mass, and then have free time on your own to grab lunch. We will then continue on to Wieliczka, a small town just outside of Krakow. It is here that you will take a guided tour of the world famous Wieliczka Salt Mines. The mines are known for beautiful and unique underground tunnels filled with constructions precisely carved out of salt, including many Biblical icons and a statue of St. John Paul II. We will return to Krakow for dinner and overnight.
Sat, May 23: Return Home
After an early breakfast and heartfelt farewells, your group will leave by motor coach and transfer to Krakow Airport for return flights home.