Feast of Divine Mercy 2015. Two very special museums where you can learn more about this devotion and it's promoter, St John Paul II.
On the Feast of Divine Mercy 2015, I thought to offer "a tour" of two special places, one in the USA and the other in Poland.
Both offer a unique and one of a kind perspective on the man, St John Paul II, who during his pontificate instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy and also canonized St Faustina, the Sister of Mercy, who received the instructions and teachings of Jesus during the early 20th century.
The first museum stop is the Shrine of St John Paul II in Washington DC.
The second Museum of interest is the is the new St John Paul II Museum located within the boyhood home of St John Paul II in Wadowice, Poland. It is not too far from Krakow and well worth a pilgrimage. This museum opened in 2013 and there were parts completed just prior to JP2's canonization (here).
When my family initially discussed making a pilgrimage to Poland last year, for the canonization of St John Paul II, blog sites (like mine) were helpful and encouraging (especially when they were in English).
The thought of traveling there was overwhelming at first. But, as you can read more here, we did manage it and splendidly too.
From the museum website, April 2014:
" The Canonization of Pope John Paul II
[translated] The crowds of pilgrims have been gathering in the Wadowice museum for several days. They visit in silence new exhibition which tells the story of John Paul II's life, passing from early childhood through youth, pontificate, suffering, death. The exhibition shows how Karol Wojtyła consistently strived for holiness and how he insisted that the holiness is attainable. The day of John Paul II and John XXIII' canonization, the exhibit increased by a new exhibit. It is the unusual souvenir - a rosary donated to the Bishop Karol Wojtyła by the then Pope John XXIII.
For a peek at the exhibits and layout of the building refer the video below.
Near to Wadowice
"And if there is something I want to make you eager to do, is that you do not stop visiting this sanctuary”. John Paul II, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, 7 June 1979.
[translation] "The miraculous painting of the Holy Mother was placed in this Calvary sanctuary in 1641. Crowds of pilgrims began to visit this holy place and it became the second most important pilgrimage destination to the Holy Mother in Poland after Jasna Góra in Częstochowa. The sanctuary consists of the Basilica complex, the Bernadine Convent and more than 40 chapels spread across the hills which create the Calvary route. There are two routes: Jesus the Lord and the Route of the Mother of God. Pilgrims walk them and stop and pray at the chapels that indicate the moments of Christ's suffering on the Way of the Cross or other religious events from the New Testament. This is the oldest and largest Calvary in Poland. It was built in the XVIIc by Mikołaj Zebrzydowski - the voivod of Kraków. Almost a million pilgrims visit it every year. The Sanctuary and the park with the Way of the Cross were placed on the UNESCO list (1 December 1999). You will need 3-4 hours to see everything here. " link
The traveler million dollar question would be this-"How do I easily get from the airport to these places?" HIGHLY Recommended: Krakow Shuttle service.
We flew in on LOTair (Polish airline) and experienced the food selections and culture even before landing. The shuttle picked us up from John Paul II International Airport Kraków–Balice (which isn't very large) and arranged our tours seamlessly. While in Krakow (Old Town) you will find much to do and will not require the travel service for that part if you are willing to meander the scenic pedestrian streets.
English is spoken and very well and the are official guidebooks available to download. We stayed at Aparthotel which was simple but nice and budget priced. Plan ahead minimal of three months to be sure of accommodations and travel. The currency is PLN and you are required to pay ahead with your credit card.
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