Category: Religious Destinations

Category: Religious Destinations

Niepokalanów

Niepokalanów, known as, ‘The Shrine of Our Mary Immaculate and Saint Maximilian Kolbe’ is a Roman Catholic religious community located about 40km west of Warsaw.

The shrine is one of the newest in Poland but also one of the most popular, primarily due to the cult following of Saint Maximillian who was canonised in 1982.

Maximillian Kolbe was a Polish Franciscan Friar who founded Niepokalanów in 1927 on land donated by Duke Drucki-Lubecki. The aim was to build a new monastery and in the autumn of the same year the first wooden barracks were built and a consecration of the new monastery took place on 7 December 1927.

Prior to the Second World War, Niepokalanów was the largest monastery in the world, housing as many as 760 men. It contained a printing house producing many publications. One of these publications was called, ‘The Knight of the Immaculate’ and had a press run of 750,000 copies a month.

During the Second World War, Maximillian Kolbe was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau for the crime of hiding Jews from the Nazis. He died in the camp, giving his life for the life of another prisoner and it was this act of heroism, which fuelled the cult of St. Maximillian to become widespread at the end of the war.

After the war the printing house in Niepokalanów was reopened and The Knight of the Immaculate was issued again. A new church was built between 1948-1954 and this and the monastery were visited by Pope John Paul II during his second Pastoral Visit in Poland on 18th of June 1983. The visit of the Pope made Niepokalanów famous not only in Poland, but also abroad.

Today over 700,000 pilgrims come to Niepokalanów, to visit the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary and also the monastic cell of St. Maximilian. They also come to see the Panorama Theatre, which commemorates 1,000 years of Christianity in Poland and highlights the most important events in the history of the church in Poland.

Visit the official Niepokalanów website.

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is a town in southern Poland located within the Lesser Poland region, around 14km east of the former home of Pope John Paul II in Wadowice.

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is Poland’s second most important pilgrimage site after Jasna Góra in Częstochowa and owes its existence to the squire of Kraków at the time, Mikołaj Zebrzydowski.

The story is that Mikołaj’s wife had a vision of three burning crosses on the very hill the park is now located upon. Seeing this as a heavenly message, Mikołaj commissioned the construction of a calvary modelled on the 1584 map of Jerusalem by Christian Kruik van Adrichem. Today the calvary is known as the ‘Polish Jerusalem’.

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska was established in 1600. By 1617, twenty four chapels had been built over the surrounding hills with many replicating the look of chapels in Jerusalem. As the place attracted growing numbers of pilgrims, more chapels were erected, eventually totalling 42. Today, over a million pilgrims visit this devotional complex every year. In 1999 Kalwaria Zebrzydowska was added to Unesco’s list of World Heritage sites.

The site is also one of Poland’s official national Historic Monuments, as designated November 17, 2000 and tracked by the National Heritage Board of Poland.

The crowning glory of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is the marvellous Baroque St. Mary’s Basilica, the first building to be constructed and the work of Giovanni Maria Bernardoni and Paolo Baudarth.

Calvary park consists of 42 chapels modelled and named after places in Jerusalem and Holy Land. There are two main paths, one devoted to Jesus Christ and the other one devoted to Holy Mary. The first has 24 chapels, the second 11 chapels, the rest are common to both of them.

Pope John Paul II made several visits to Kalwaria Zebrzydowska on the pilgrimages he made to his homeland Poland.

Tours & Experiences

Explore Kalwaria Zebrzydowska

Kalwaria Zebrzydowska Santuario

Wadowice

Wadowice is a city in southern Poland located around 50 km southeast of Kraków and is the birthplace of Karol Wojtyła, better known to the world as Pope John Paul II, the first non-Italian pope since the 16th-century Pope Adrian VI.

Wadowice has evolved into a popular pilgrimage destination with more than 200,000 visitors every year. Pilgrims arrive to pay their respects to the Wojtyła family home, which is now a museum and to also have a slice of the famous kremówka, the Pope’s favourite cream-filled pastry.

The Pope’s former home is a modest apartment block located at 7 Kościelna Street and in the Pope’s own words, “It is the place where it all began.”

The Wojtyła family first moved into the apartment in 1919 and rented two rooms with a kitchen on the first floor. Karol Wojtyła was born in this apartment on 18 May 1920. After his mother’s death on 13 April 1929, Karol and his father occupied only one smaller room and the kitchen. Wojtyła lived in this house until 1938, when he moved with his father to Kraków and enrolled at Jagiellonian University.

The apartment has been a historic house museum since 1984; it preserves its original structure and houses a collection of objects that belonged to the Wojtyła family.

The museum also commemorates Wojtyła’s life and his work in Poland until he left Kraków for the Vatican in 1978.

Visit the website – The Holy Father John Paul II Family Home Museum.

Pope John Paul II was the head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 1978 until his death in 2005. He was elected pope by the second papal conclave of 1978, which was called after John Paul I, who had been elected in August to succeed Pope Paul VI, died after 33 days. Cardinal Wojtyła was elected on the third day of the conclave and adopted the name of his predecessor in tribute to him.

John Paul II is recognised as helping to end Communist rule in his native Poland and the rest of Europe.

If you’re staying in Krakow, we recommend the Pilgrim tour to Pope John Paul’s hometown Wadowice. The John Paul II route tour covers the most important places connected with the pope. The main attractions are the John Paul the II Museum, established in the pope’s family home, the Kalwaria Zebrzydowska (listed at UNESCO) and the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow. This full-day tour by minivan with an English-speaking driver is a private tour, while a maximum of 15 people can enter the museum.

Licheń

The Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń is a Roman Catholic church located at the Shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows, Queen of Poland, in the village of Licheń Stary near Konin in the Greater Poland Voivodeship in Poland.

The size of the church is staggering, the nave (central part of the church) is 120m long and 77m wide. It has a 98m tall central dome and a 141.5m high tower and is Poland’s largest church and one of the largest church buildings in the world. It has been estimated that the church can house a congregation of 7,000 worshippers.

A painting of the Virgin Mary, the Sorrowful Queen of Poland, is displayed on the basilica’s main altar. The painting is believed to date back to the 18th century and alongside the church itself is one of Poland’s principal pilgrimage sites.

The Basilica of Our Lady of Licheń was constructed between 1994 and 2004 and was designed by Barbara Bielecka, a Polish Functionalist architect and was funded by pilgrims’ donations.

The temple is a five-nave transept cruciform basilica (Latin cross) with a semi-circular chancel. Its façade is headed by an impressive column portico. The whole building is covered with an enormous golden dome, visible from the distance of almost 20km away.

The history of the foundation of the church can be traced back to 1813. It all started with a Polish soldier named Tomasz Kłossowski who was fighting under Napoleon at the Battle of Leipzig and was seriously wounded.

According to legend, he prayed to the Virgin Mary begging her not to let him die in a foreign land and she appeared to him wearing a golden crown, a dark red gown, with a golden mantle, and holding a white eagle in her right hand.

She comforted the soldier and promised he would recover and return to Poland. Tomasz was instructed to have an image of her made, and to place the image in a public place so that “My people will pray before this image and shall draw many graces at My hands in the hardest times of trial.”

Pope John Paul II blessed the Basilica in 1999.

The largest organ in Poland (13th largest in the world) was added to the church between 2002 and 2007.

Explore Lichen Stary.

Jasna Góra Monastery

The Jasna Góra Monastery is located in Poland’s spiritual capital, the city of Częstochowa, within the Silesian Voivodeship in southern Poland. The site is one of Poland’s official national Historic Monuments.

Jasna Góra is a shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary and was founded in 1382 by Pauline monks. The Paulite order named the hill in the western part of the city ‘Jasna Góra’ (Bright Hill) and erected the monastery; which has been a pilgrimage destination since the Middle Ages.

The image of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, also known as Our Lady of Częstochowa, to which miraculous powers are attributed, is one of Jasna Góra’s most precious treasures.

Each year, thousands of believers are drawn to the site to see the Black Madonna painting in the Chapel of Our Lady and to look around the monastery. It is estimated that over 4 million pilgrims visit the shrine every year from as many as 80 different countries. Many Polish pilgrims travel there by foot with the average distance for a pilgrim group to travel being around 350 km over an 11 day period. Pilgrims usually plan their journeys so that they arrive in Jasna Góra in time for the Assumption of Mary.

The Chapel of Our Lady is the oldest part of the monastery and this is where the Black Madonna can be viewed. The picture is unveiled from 6am to noon and from 1.30pm until 9.20pm. During weekends times are 6am to 1pm and 2pm until 9.20pm.

There’s a lot more to Jasna Góra than the Black Madonna such as the 17th century basilica with its opulent baroque furnishings, the 106m tall bell tower, an arsenal with an impressive collection of Turkish weapons from the 1683 Battle of Vienna and a museum.

You’ll find some very interesting artefacts in the museum such as the founding documents of Jasna Góra from 1382 and a cross made from steel from the rubble of the World Trade Center.

Among the monastery’s most important exhibits is the medal from the 1983 Nobel Peace Prize received by Lech Wałęsa, the former Polish president and trade-union organizer and rosaries made from breadcrumbs by concentration camp prisoners.

There are typically numerous pilgrims and tourists at Jasna Góra Monastery, and the volume of excited voices can be high. However, upon entering the Monastery, it is expected etiquette for visitors to be silent or as quiet as possible out of respect. Often, there is a long line of people who wait to approach the shrine of the Black Madonna of Częstochowa. Upon arriving at the place of the shrine at which one would pass in front of the icon of Our Lady, it is expected and a sign of respect for pilgrims to drop to their knees, and traverse the anterior of the shrine on their knees.

Tours

Czestochowa – Black Madonna Monastery Private Transport from Krakow

Day Trip to Czestochowa and Lagiewniki from Krakow

Jasna Gora & Black Madonna Private Tour from Lodz with Lunch