Pilgrimage to Poland - September 5, 2023
To celebrate the beatification of the Ulma family
A pilgrimage to Poland is a step into rich Catholic history and tradition. Travel to the heart of Europe and witness the miracle of Our Lady of Czestochowa, the beauty of the Wieliczka Salt Mines, the tragedy of Auschwitz, and the richness of the Lord’s Mercy.
In addition, this special pilgrimage will feature a day in Markowa celebrating the beatification of the Ulma family. Jozef and Wiktoria Ulma and their seven children were recognized as martyrs by Pope Francis. The family was executed by the Nazis for hiding and protecting Jews in their home
Poland / Central Europe Pilgrimage Itinerary
Our pilgrimage begins as we depart on our overnight flight to Warsaw. Meals and refreshments will be served aloft.
Upon arrival in Warsaw we will be met by our tour manager, who will remain with us for the duration of our pilgrimage. Time permitting, we will visit St. Stanislaw Kostka Church, where the martyred Solidarity priest Father Jerzy Popieluszko worked and is buried. Then we enjoy a panoramic overview tour of the city on the way to check-in at our local hotel, our home for the next two nights. (D)
This morning we enjoy a tour of Warsaw including visits to the Cathedral of St. John, the Royal Castle, the Old Town Square, the Barbican and City Walls, and Zygmunt’s Column. Follow the Royal Route to Lazienki Park where we will see the Palace on the Water (outside visit). See St. James Church, where the young Helena Kowalska (future St. Faustina) prayed for vocational discernment and visit the motherhouse of Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy on Zytnia Street. This afternoon, we drive out into the countryside to the Franciscan Monastery at Niepokalanow, founded by St. Maximillian Kolbe. Pray in the little chapel here where he and the other friars would gather for Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours and reflect upon the mission of the Militia Immaculata and the role of the Blessed Mother in our lives. Return to Warsaw this evening, for the last of our two nights in this capital city. (B, D)
Depart Warsaw this morning and drive to the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa, the most holy site for the Polish people. The highlight of our visit will be viewing the famous icon of the Black Madonna to which numerous miracles are attributed. The history of this icon is shrouded in mystery, and according to tradition it was painted by St. Luke, brought back to Constantinople from Jerusalem by St. Helena, and eventually arrived at Jasna Gora monastery in 1386. We will see the Treasury, Knight’s Hall, Refectory and the Basilica of the Holy Cross and Nativity of the Virgin Mary, with our remaining time here free for you to further explore, spend time in Adoration, go to confession, or simply sit and pray. After Mass proceed to Krakow, our home for the next seven nights. (B, D)
After breakfast this morning, we journey to the Kazimierz district. Prior to World War II, this neighborhood had been the center of Jewish life in Krakow for over 500 years. After being systematically destroyed by the Nazis, it is undergoing a resurgence amongst contemporary Cracovians and features two of the city’s most important synagogues. Tour Oskar Schindler’s factory, made famous in the movie Schindler’s List, and learn about the bravery of this one man who helped save hundreds of Jews from being put to death. This afternoon, we will journey to Auschwitz-Birkenau to pay respects at the remains of this Nazi concentration camp where over a million people were killed during World War II. Both St. Edith Stein and St. Maximilian Kolbe were sent here, along with millions of other innocent Jews, Christians, and Poles. St. Maximilian was starved and then faced lethal injection after he volunteered his life for that of a fellow prisoner. Visit his cell and the Martyrdom museum before returning to Krakow. (B, D)
Today will be dedicated to the Mass and celebrations surrounding the beatification of the Ulma family in the village of Markowa. Perhaps have time to tour the village of Markowa and the museum dedicated to the family. Wander through the Orchard of Remembrance and contemplate the lives that were taken by the Nazis and their regime. (B, D)
Krakow was thankfully largely untouched by World War II and is an important focal point of Polish Catholicism. Following breakfast, proceed to Wawel Hill and visit the Cathedral of St. Stanislaw, Poland’s second most important pilgrimage shrine. Proceed to the Basilica of the Holy Trinity, the Gothic Dominican church originally built in the 13th century, and the adjoining monastery of the Black Friars. Continue through Krakow’s Old Town to the main Market Square, the Church of St. Mary, City Hall Tower, Kanonicza Street where Pope John Paul II resided while living in Krakow and the courtyard of the Collegium Maius where he was a student. We end our day in prayer at two ancient churches that were unscathed by World War II – the Basilicas of St. Florian and St. Mary. (B, D)
Continue in the footsteps of St. John Paul II as we take a day trip from Krakow to Zakopane in the Tatra Mountains. As a parish priest and bishop of Krakow, John Paul would often journey to this picturesque area for hiking, swimming, canoeing, and camping. He visited also as Pope, consecrating the church at the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima, built by the local people in gratitude for his survival after an assassination attempt, which he attributed to Our Lady. Visit this shrine as well as the rest of the local village. Travel by funicular to the top of Mt. Gubalowka and stand in awe at the panoramic views of the “Polish Alps.” After some free time in nature, return to Krakow later this evening. (B, D, Mass)
Today we walk in St. John Paul II’s footsteps as we retrace much of his early life, beginning with Wadowice where we will have Mass at the Gothic Basilica of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, where he received baptism, first communion, and confirmation. See the Baroque nave and the miraculous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual help, in front of which the future saint prayed daily. Get to know the former Karol Wojtyla in a new way as we explore his hometown and the museum located in his family home, containing relics of his youth and personal belongings from when he was a local priest. Our other stop today is a place that was one of John Paul’s favorite pilgrimage sites from his youth and young adult years – Kalawaria Zebrzydowska. This unique location began in the 17th century, when the Palatine of Krakow founded a Bernardine Monastery and built a replica of the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Jerusalem. The complex grew over the years to encompass replicas of the Tomb of Christ, The Mount of Olives, the Home of Caiaphas, and other sites in the Holy Land, to provide a place of more local pilgrimage for those who could not journey to Jerusalem. Now, on the slopes of the hills and in the valley are 43 chapels and shrines scattered on only 4km distance honoring the Way of the Cross, the Mysteries of the Rosary, and 7 Sorrows of Mary. Explore this peaceful sanctuary before returning to Krakow. (B, D)
This morning, we will travel to Wieliczka to visit one of Europe’s oldest salt mines, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These mines are a unique place where many generations of Polish miners have created a world of underground chambers and decorated chapels carved out of salt including the famous Chapel of St. Kinga. After lunch, we journey to the Divine Mercy Shrine in Lagiewniki, a suburb of Krakow, where Saint Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy, lived and died. Enjoy a guided tour of the shrine, which includes the convent chapel and St. Faustina’s tomb, and venerate the image of Divine Mercy and the relics of St. Faustina. Listen to a talk from one of the sisters of her Order. Afterwards, we have the opportunity to pray by a relic of St. John Paul II in the new center “Have no Fear.” Return to Krakow for our farewell dinner this evening. (B, D, Mass)
Following breakfast transfer to the airport for our flight home, taking with us all the wonderful memories and graces of this pilgrimage.
- Daily Mass at holy sites
- Roundtrip economy airfare from Charlotte on Lufthansa
- 9 nights’ accommodations, including taxes and service charges
- Porterage of one piece of luggage at airports and hotels
- Porterage of one piece of luggage at airports and hotels
- Breakfast and dinner (excluding drinks)
- Farewell dinner on day 10