Sunday, February 10, 2013

Pilgrimage to Krakow Poland


 The students at the Angelicum finished exams last Friday and a group of 8 first year seminarians decided to make a pilgrimage to Krakow Poland.  It was a perfect way to rest before starting second semester and also for me personally to thank Blessed John Paul II for his intercession in my studies.  He studied and received a degree from the Angelicum so I feel connected to him in this way.  Above is a picture of the main market square in Krakow with St. Mary's in the back ground.  Every day there was Holy Mass there on the half hour starting at 6 am and going through noon.  They were well attended.
Above is a picture of St. Mary's from another angle a couple days later.  SNOW!!!!  It was a great blessing to walk around with 6 inches of snow on the ground.  To the right is a picture of one of the beautiful parks in Krakow.  It was a little wet because the temperature was hovering around freezing but it was well worth it.  It made me think of home.  


Day Trips:

We made a few day trips outside of Krakow.  One to Auschwitz concentration camp.  This was a very powerful day.  This first picture is of the train tracks leading into the gates of the Berkenau camp.  This may look familiar to some from the movie Schindlers List.  The size of this camp was amazing, there were nearly 100,000 prisoners here at one point.  

Here are pictures of the chimneys of the hundreds of prisoners bunk houses.  The wood shell of most of them have been destroyed or fallen down leaving only the brick.  In the picture below you can see the number of them, and this is only one side of the camp.  

We also made day trips to Czestochowa and the Divine Mercy Shrine.  All powerful places to pray.  

Fat Thursday:

Yeah, I mean fat Thursday not fat Tuesday.  We stayed at the Franciscan Friary just a block or two from the main market square.  They were wonderful hosts and they had wonderful sisters cooking for them.  I was confused when I walked into the lounge one morning and found piles of punchki.  It looked like a scene from fat Tuesday.  Well one of the brothers explained that the tradition in Poland is fat Thursday.  I was not going to complain.  Look at those things!  

If you look closely at the picture below you will see what may be a familiar face.  It is St. Maximilian Kolbe.  He is the friar with the beard.  He lived and taught at the friary we stayed at for the week.  This was a picture of the men living there at that time.  To the left is a picture of the altar in which St. Maximilian went to pray for our Ladies intercession when he needed money for the Militia Immaculata.  There was an envelope on the altar with the exact amount he needed.  Years later offered himself in place of another prisoner who had a wife and children to go to the starvation cell at Auschwitz.  

JPII and Krakow

We were blessed to have the Archdiocesan offices and residence directly across the street from the Franciscans.  This is were John Paul II lived when he was Archbishop of Krakow.  But also during the Nazi occupation.  The Archbishop at that time took the 15 or so seminarians in to live with him for there safety   He taught them right there in house.  We were also blessed by being on the same flight as the current Archbishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.  We introduced ourselves as American Seminarians studying in Rome and making a pilgrimage to Krakow.  He invited us to come over for a visit during our stay in Krakow.  So we were able to meet with him and tour the residence.  The picture of the window to the left is a very popular window that JPII used to talk to the people of Krakow from when he was visiting.  There is now a picture of him in the window in memory. This is the room which he and the other seminarians stayed in during the Nazi occupation as well. 
Below is the chapel where JPII was ordained a priest.  The Archbishop at that time wanted to ordain him quietly and quickly so he could head off to Rome for further studies, thus he made the exception and ordained him in this small chapel as opposed to the Cathedral.   When he was Archbishop of Krakow he would spend 4 hours in this chapel in prayer and also work.  He would respond to many letters here in front of the Blessed Sacrament. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow,Next time I'm coming. Great pictures especially of the paczki's :-)