Sample Day-by-Day Itinerary:
Day 1 - USA - Warsaw
Depart USA for your overnight flight(s) to Warsaw. Dinner and breakfast will be served on board.
Day 2 - Warsaw
Upon arrival in Warsaw you will find your luggage and exit the baggage claim into the arrivals hall where you will be greeted by your tour escort and/or driver. After a warm welcome to Poland, you will be escorted to the vehicle which will take you to your hotel. We begin our pilgrimage with Mass.
This afternoon we will visit and celebrate Mass at 39 Zytnia Street where Faustina entered the convent. Following dinner at your hotel you may explore or relax before retiring for the evening.
Day 3 - Warsaw
After breakfast, we start the day with Mass at St. James Church, where St. Faustina went when she arrived in Warsaw. We continue to explore all the landmarks of Warsaw: Old Town, Market Square, the Barbican, the Warsaw Ghetto monument, Lazienki Park, the Chopin statue, and the magnificently restored Royal Castle. In the afternoon we visit to St. Stanislaw Kostka Church to see a special exhibition dedicated to Father Jerzy Popiełuszko, a great personality of Catholic Church murdered by security officers in 1984. In June 1987 John Paul II visited St. Stanislaw Kostka Church and prayed in front of the tomb of Father Jerzy. We return to our hotel for dinner and a restful overnight.
Day 4 - Warsaw – Niepokalanow - Swinice Warckie - Czestochowa
After breakfast, we travel to Niepokalanow where we will see a Franciscan Monastery founded by St. Maximillian Kolbe. We continue to Swince Warckie to visit the parish church St. Casimir where St. Faustina was baptized as Helen Kowalska. We arrive in Czestochowa, the home of the greatest pilgrimage shrine in Poland Our Lady of Czestochowa. We enjoy dinner at our hotel before retiring for the evening.
Day 5 - Czestochowa - Wadowice - Zakopane
Today we begin our day with Mass at Jasna Gora Monastery where the Holy icon of the Black Madonna is located. We will have time to explore the most important places of religious worship. The monastery has a pilgrimage tradition that goes back to the 14th century. St. John Paul II was known to make frequent visits to the monastery throughout his life. We will have time to venerate the priceless treasures contained within, including the Miraculous Icon. We continue on to Zakopane, with a stop along the way in Wadowice, the birthplace of Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) and see the church he attended and was baptized as a child. This afternoon, we arrive in the resort village of Zakopane. Arrival at the hotel in time for dinner and a restful overnight.
Day 6 - Zakopane – Krakow
This morning we will take a cable car ride to the nearby mountaintop for extraordinary views. We will visit the Jaszczorowka Chapel in Zakopane which has been visited several times by young Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II), as it lies on the walking paths where he often finished his walks for prayer and reflection. We then make our way to the colourful Krupowki Street for some last minute shopping in the local bazaar. We will stop at the amazing Wieliczka Salt Mines on our way to Krakow. We arrive in Krakow in time for dinner, after which you may enjoy a short stroll in the old city before retiring for the evening.
Day 7 - Krakow - Auschwitz - Krakow
After breakfast, we explore Krakow's Market Square and hear the silver trumpet of the bugler from St. Mary's Tower and visit the church where we may pray before the extraordinary Wit Stwosz altar. The surroundings of the square have remained unchanged for almost 700 years and contain buildings of historic value such as the Town Hall Tower, the Cloth Hall and the burgher's houses. At Wawel hill we will tour the Cathedral, Coronation Chapel, where you may pray at the tomb of St Stanislaus Holy patron of Polish state. In the afternoon we will visit Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi concentration camp where unspeakable atrocities occurred. We will see the cell that imprisoned St. Maximillian Kolbe and the Martyrdom Museum recalling the horrors of the Holocaust. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Day 8 - Krakow – Divine Mercy - Lagiewniki - Krakow
After breakfast, we depart for our day's excursion to Lagiewniki, the capital of the Divine Mercy. It was here that the message of the Divine Mercy originated, which Christ Himself wished to pass on to our generation through the mediation of St. Faustina. The Sanctuary houses grace working images of the Merciful Jesus and the relics of St. Faustina. As we view the Shrine of Divine Mercy we will see St. Faustina's convent chapel and her Tomb. We will visit the newly constructed Shrine of Divinity dedicated by St. John Paul II on his last visit to Poland in 2002. We celebrate Mass at the Shrine before we visit the new centre "Have no Fear" where we pray by the relic of St. John Paul II. We will have time to pray and reflect before returning to Krakow for farewell dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight.
Day 9 - Krakow - USA
Following breakfast, we leave Krakow for our return flight(s) home. We will bid farewell to our new friends and to a Pilgrimage which will be in our memories and hearts for a long time to come!
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About Krakow & St. John Paul II
Karol Wojtyla (St. John Paul II) was born in the Polish town of Wadowice on May 18, 1920. He moved to Krakow with his father in 1938, where he attended Jagiellonian University and began studying for the priesthood. He was ordained as a priest on November 1, 1946 and went on to continue his studies in Rome until 1948. He returned to Poland that same year for his first pastoral assignment in the village of Niegowic, which lasted seven months. He then was transferred to the parish of St. Florian in Krakow, where he also spent time hiking in the mountains and canoeing with young people.
Karol Wojtyla’s personality and ability to connect with young people attracted large crowds to his sermons. He not only had a group of people regularly attend his liturgy at 6:00AM, but also celebrate name-days and travel together to hike the Bieszczady Mountains and canoe on the Masurian Lakes. The group was very close, and referred to Priest Karol as ‘’Wujek,” which is Polish for Uncle.
Karol Wojtyla continued his theological studies, and in 1958 he was nominated Bishop. Soon after, he participated in preparations for the Second Vatican Council. Following the death of Archbishop Eugeniusz Basiak in 1963, he became the Bishop of Krakow and four years later was appointed Cardinal by Pope Paul VI.
Karol Wojtyla was a strong advocate of the youth movement, ‘’Light-Life,” established in 1969 by Fr. Franciszek Blachnicki. He appreciated the importance of the movement and the religious formation offered to young people through the creation of summer camps. Communist authorities saw the camps as alarming, and activists of the movement were persecuted. Many Bishops distanced themselves from the movement out of fear of endangering the Church. As a Cardinal, Karol Wojtyla officially approved the summer camps as part of pastoral activites in the Krakow archbishopric. He often attended meetings with students, preached at retreats, made surprise visits to offer confession, and unofficially supported the programs financially, including giving funds to the poorest students. John Paul II addressed the youth on the inauguration of his pontificate, in his first speech delivered from the window of the Apostolic Palace before the Angelus. He exclaimed, ‘’...my hope, because you are the promise of tomorrow. You are the hope of the Church and society.” Meetings with young people were immensely important for St. John Paul II, and he is notably behind the creation of World Youth Day.
St. John Paul II often returned to Wadowice, Niegowic, Krawkow and Zakopane, where his road to the Papacy all began. He recalled on a pilgrimage to his homeland, ‘’Here, in this land, I was born. Here, in Krakow, I spent the greater part of my life... Here, I received the grace of my priestly vocation... I was consecrated Bishop in the Cathedral of Wawel.” Karol Wojtyla’s journey to Rome for the conclave started in Krakow, where he became an adult, an artist, and a devoted shepherd of souls.
After returning from a week long Lenten retreat, he was suffering from the effects of the flu, his condition continued to decline. He continued to resume his usual audiences and visiting with bishops until his condition prompted him to appear via television to Pilgrims. On April 2, 2005, his final hours were filled with uninterrupted prayer by those assisting him, and by thousands filling St. Peter’s Square. His last words, fitting to a life filled with prayer, were ”Amen, Amen”.
His miracle for Beatification came from a french nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre, who was struck with Parkinson’s several months after his death. His Beatification Ceremony took place on May 1, 2011, was the biggest event in Rome since his death, and is the quickest of modern times. With over 300,000 attendees, and over 2 million taking part in beatification-related activities. ”It’s not like Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II, will suddenly become a saint when the canonization ceremony occurs. The belief would be he is already in heaven with God, living the life of a saint. All that’s going to happen when the ceremony occurs is that the church will officially recognize that”
- Pope Francis
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Saint John Paul II Memorial, Warsaw, Poland
Shrine of Divine Mercy,
Wawel Castle, Krakow, Poland