Oblate Pilgrimage to Krakow A pilgrimage full of fun and full of life
To describe in words the wonderful trip / pilgrimage to Poland in June is a challenge. It was a pilgrimage that brought the group of just over 40, from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Poland, to the depths and heights of so many feelings: awe, horror, fun, amazement, and calm. We were fortunate to have two priests, Fr. John from Scotland, and Fr. Dominik from Poland, who seamlessly weaved into our daily eucharistic celebrations the many emotions and experiences of the group.
A visit to Auschwitz-Birkineau
It was clear from the itinerary that the experience of Krakow and its story during the second World War would be a feature of this pilgrimage. We visited one of the most notorious concentration camps, Auschwitz-Birkineau – located just a short distance from the city. Even for those for whom this was not a first visit, it was impossible not to experience a sense of horror and shock. What happened here is beyond words… and for most of us, we could not discuss it.
Oskar Schindler, Saint John Paul II and Saint Faustina
The visit to the Oskar Schindler factory and the story of his efforts to save Jews had given us background to the story of Krakow and its people during WW2. But Krakow is equally known for its association with St. John Paul and St. Faustina, and so on another day we travelled the short distance outside Krakow to visit the Sanctuary of St. John Paul and the Centre of Divine Mercy – each only a stone’s throw from the other. There was an incredible sense of calm at both of these shrines.
The Wieliczka Salt Mines
Added into that mix was a visit to the Salt Mines of Wieliczka. The amazing salt sculptures and chapels carved by the miners left us all full of awe for the talent and gifts of the people who worked there. Those were the planned trips, but there was also a lot of time for exploring the city of Krakow. We were all quickly taken with the beauty and character of the Old Town of Krakow. It has survived intact despite the World War and Soviet occupation, and its medieval character and buildings make it a place of joy and wonder to visit. During our visit there were celebrations to mark Corpus Christi, and fireworks to mark mid-summer.
Krakow was fun and full of life – as was our pilgrimage. We had all we could have asked for – great organisation, wonderful meals, great fun, and good weather. At the heart of it was a truly wonderful group of people.
– Mary O’Brien
See all the photos from the Pilgrimage on Facebook:
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