After the visit to Our Lady of Czestochowa we moved to a city that is usually the must-see-place in Poland, I mean the royal city of Cracow. Visitors go there as it is one of a few places that weren’t destroyed during WWII. You can still admire the old architecture and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the Old Town and the original narrow streets. Apparently the town square is the biggest in Europe. There are lots of places to see and most of visitors attempt to see them all. I believe that a better way to see the town is to make a theme of your trip. This time I had only a day for Cracow itself as the main focus of my trip was the Divine Shrine on the outskirts of the city where Saint Sister Faustina lived her final years and where she is buried. It is also the place where the miraculous image of the Merciful Jesus is kept. Usually I limit my visit to the shrine but this time I decided to spend one more day to explore the town as well. As I mentioned it is the place of historic buildings, lovely boutiques, trendy restaurants etc. For centuries it was also the home of the polish royal family. Before Warsaw was chosen for the capital Cracow had the honor of being the political Centre of the country. Apart of this aspect Cracow is also the city churches and of saints, in fact in sixteenth century a priest sent by the Pope as his representative after arriving to Cracow had to say: “If the Catholic Church didn’t have Rome Cracow would be Rome.” Today in the churches of the city there are tombs of 9 saints: St. Stanislaw, St Jadwiga, St. Jan Kanty, St Jacek, St Szymon from Lipnica, St Stanislaw Kazimierczyk, St Brother Albert Chmielewski, St Sister Faustina and St Florian. There are also 10 Blessed People buries here: Bl Wincenty Kadlubek, Bl Mary Truszkowska, Bl Michael Giedroyc, Bl John Benzym, Bl Swietoslaw Milczacy, BlSalomea, Bl Aniela Salawa, Bl Isiah Boer, Bl Bernardyna Jablonska and Bl Bronislawa. Apart of two of those people the others lived, worked and died here. That's why Cracow is the city of saints not just the city of the tombs of the saints. Those holy people reached the level of holiness here. However the theme of my trip this time was John Paul II. Of course he isn’t buried in Cracow but it was his city. Firstly his parents got married in a church here. Then as a young man he moved to Cracow. Here he studied and was ordained a priest. Later he was appointed bishop of the city. The Cathedral where kings and queens of Poland are buried was the place where he was consecrated a bishop. That’s why I decided to give myself time to walk the paths of the pope who spent a significant amount of his time in the city.
Fr Daniel OMI
An Oblate Priest