Yes we are in Paris, well almost, I couldn’t sleep so I thought I would catch up on our final day in Krakow. By the way Susan is sleeping and I envy her. 5 AM came early again and today it wasn’t easy getting out of bed, less than 5 hours sleep doesn’t cut it but we had to see our friend once more before we leave and what better way than at his morning mass for the Sisters.
We met and walked about 15 minutes to a non descript building and Fr. Tomasz rang the bell and we were buzzed in, we put our jackets in another room and met the Mother Superior of the order. She was so sweet and young for such an important position.
They directed us into the chapel and Fr. Tomasz said, “I think you will fit in the pew” and he was right, I almost fit. I did manage to sit and stand but I had to get out to kneel in the aisle. The Sisters were all behind us and I’m sure they found it amusing seeing this big man trying to navigate this tiny pew…..Susan and I did, and so did Father. We had the precious blood again today and the Sisters sang in Latin, I think Fr. Tomasz told them we didn’t understand Polish but some Latin, yes. At the prayers of the faithful Father finished with a prayer for our safety on our travels home and told us in English when they finished.
Before we left Sister gave us prayer cards of their founder who was beautified in 2013. We thanked them and left and we both felt great……being around holy people will do that to you. We walked with our friend to his office and it was hard to say goodbye, but we know we will him again….Si Dios Kyrie.
We stopped for an extra large cappuccino on the way back to the apartment and between that and the 2 espressos I had this morning, I was flying. Susan did the final packing and I finished the Day 6 report and got it out, I made breakfast, an omelet with all the stuff left in the fridge, it turned out really good. We planned to go back to Divine Mercy on our way out but it was after 12 and I had to get Jag back by 1 PM. I did enjoy the car the gas mileage was super and the pickup and speed, well, you know. But did I ever tell you I really loved that Mercedes 2 years ago?
We checked in for our flight and went outside to enjoy a little more sun and the cool breeze before going thru security. We had a beer and a glass of wine before we got on the plane, since I had a few Zolty left and we left Poland with 50 cents left. We got stopped at security because I had our water pick in the carry-on and he asked what it was, I wanted to say a gun, but knew better so I tried to explain and he went to the computer and checked it out. We still have the pick, so I guess he found it on-line, maybe he ordered one from Wal-Mart.
We will be in Paris around 5:30 this evening and our flight is at 11 AM tomorrow morning. We had to fly to JFK because we left from Paris and one of our business class seats I got with mileage (and they don’t make it easy to use the miles your way). We have a nice hotel and a room for 3 with large double and a single…..we will see, every large double we have had could only sleep one, that’s why I booked larger rooms with extra beds.
Well back to reality, did I ever tell you I hate Charles de Gaulle……not the guy, the airport. Their hotel shuttle system leaves something to be desired and we waited over an hour for the shuttle because the first one that came people were pushing and shoving to get in and we were in line first. The first shall be last, we are trying to keep our pilgrimage peacefulness.
This hotel was the biggest miss I have made in a long time, this place is away from it all, food,wine or even a grocery.
It’s only an overnight so we are roughing it with a pizza……we hope it gets here before we fall asleep. The beds are comfy and I hope to be in bed soon.
It’s been a long day and even longer with the joys of traveling. That’s all I care to remember for today.
PS their vending machines are broken, but the pizza just arrived. Good night
God bless you all
Susan & Tom
Dear God, today, I offer to you all the suffering I experience, in union with the sufferings of Jesus. May Your Light and goodness mollify the pain in my being, soothe the sorrow in my heart, and lift the darkness from my mind and weakness from my will. Amen.
I got up early this morning, 7, this was going to be a tough day, our last full day in Krakow and it was jammed packed. I didn’t wake Susan until 8 and we had coffee together and tried to figure out how to stay for another month or so. Ha Ha.
We had planned to go to the JP II Center for noon mass and meet Fr Paul after to purchase our ex-voto and we wanted to visit some Basilicas and Shrines first, plus we needed to get chocolate chip cookies for Cardinal Dziwisz, who had invited us thru Fr. Tomasz for a visit at his residence tonight at 6. Jane from EWTN told us a story about how St. John Paul II loved chocolate chip cookies and the Cardinal would help him eat them. The last time she was here the first thing he asked her was “where are the cookies?”. We found out from the Cardinal later that she made them.
We headed around 9 for cookies and to go to St. Francis Church and pray our Rosary in the JP II’s pew and to our surprise, when we entered the Basilica, an English Mass had started on the main altar. We were in and it was great to attend mass again and know every word that was said although we do love the Polish Masses and can even sing along with certain songs. We found out after that these pilgrims were from Philly and were headed for Warsaw today.
Susan and I went to the rosary pew of St. John Paul II and began our rosary until a group of children came in and we moved so they could all sit in the pew. We continued our prayers a few pews up and it seemed we were surrounded by all these young and beautiful children and we smiled knowing that the youth we so very important to our Saint. They noticed that we were praying and we had a Rosary in our hands and we hope we set an example for them.
Not in a rush now to go to mass, we went to St. Mary’s Basilica and to get a closer look at the depiction of the life of Mary at the main altar. We have seen this before and it is always roped off so you can only get so close and I have photos of it but they had a notice that at 11:30 at the pilgrim entrance you could get up close. It was early, so we went on the cookie hunt to no avail, and stopped for a cappuccino.
It was time to go back to St. Mary’s and we got in this small line and then realized you had to pay to get in, ok 20 pln later we had our tickets and stood back in line. Behind us a large tour group came and then more people behind them and the door finally opened late. We went in and the closest we could get was in the back where I had taken my pictures before. Then came some pushing and shoving and loud talking and I had a camera around my neck and a employee came up and told me 5 pln if I wanted to take pictures. I was done, I hate tours and this one hadn’t even begun and we didn’t know what language they would talk in. We made our way out and I snapped a couple of shots so you could see this masterpiece, since my other photos are at home.
We went cookie hunting again and found a store on our way to St. Joseph’s church and the miraculous painting of him with Jesus. We had been there before twice, but never knew about the Painting. Every time we had gone in the big Iron Gate was locked but Eucharistic Adoration was always available from the back. Today was the same but the Bernadine Sisters were praying and singing from a side room near the altar and that made the visit even more special.
After we went to another favorite restaurant, Corleone’s, right up the street and shared a small meatless pizza……it’s Wednesday. It was back to the apt. to get all the things we needed to get blessed and to head to The St. John Paul II center to meet with Fr. Paul. We decided not to carry the large bag with us to the Cardinals’ apartment and then have to drag it to dinner, so we asked Fr. Paul to do it at our meeting. We sat with him and gave him all the information he needed and we gave him all our intentions, since they wouldn’t fit in the box at the altar. He look nervous and asked if had to read them all when they pray after mass and offer them up to Saint John Paul II’s intercession and I told him just the intention I put in the box that would cover everyone, He was relieved.
We finished our business ordering a plaque for the shrine and we were very happy that it would be right outside the door to his original Tomb stone from Rome which also is the Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament. I then asked him to bless our things and he said wait, ran out, and when he returned he had a large framed photo of Saint John Paul II and an in-scripted and signed acknowledgment of gratitude from the Cardinal for our ex-voto donation. I am going to have to re=pack when we get back.
We said our goodbyes and headed for the St. Faustina Shrine and the chapel of Divine Mercy. We prayed our chaplet and again reverenced the relic and we left for home. It was after three and we had things to do before we met with Fr. Thomaz at 6 PM.
We repacked the large suitcase and tried to figure out what we needed for the next 2 days. Before we knew it was time to get ready and at 5:45 we were out the door. Fr. Tomasz was right on time, at the Palace and we walked thru the park to the Cardinal’s residence and the street he lives on now is the most beautiful in Krakow.
When we got there we were greeted by his private aide who was Italian and Buona Sera worked. He spoke a little English and was very nice. The Cardinal came out of his living room and greeted us with 3 Polish kisses each. Susan tried to kiss his ring but he wasn’t going to allow that. We went in and sat and he looked so good. Retirement even though he is busy suits him well. I told him that and he laughed. We started to talk and he said I do speak English so we spoke in English, but Fr. Tomasz did have to interpret at times because the Cardinal shared a lot of private things about St. John Paul II and we could feel the love he has for him as he spoke.
He told a little about the Saints’ spiritual life and relationship with God and the Blessed Mother. We talked about the day the Saint was shot and that the bullet that went thru the Pope should have hit him but just dropped on the floor of the car between him and the Pope.
Editor’s note: Cardinal Dziwisz was formerly Pope John Paul II’s personal secretary. Click here to read a great article he wrote titled “The Day the Pope was shot” from the National Catholic Register, June 2001.
He told us that many reports of Miracles thru the intercession of Saint John Paul II come in every day and we promised to send him ours.
Editor’s note: Tom credits his cancer recovery to the intercession of Saint John Paul II. If you have not read his story, click here.
We discussed America and the spirituality of the American people and we talked about so many things, before we knew it, it was 7 and we were late for our dinner reservation just down the street. Fr. Thomasz took a couple photos as the Cardinal gave some us 4 special Rosaries with Saint John Paul II’s crest as well as his crest plus re-supplying our relic cards.
It was time to go and we each got 3 Polish kisses again and a special blessing from him and said good-bye for now.
We were at the restaurant in 3 minutes and they gave us a great table in this lovely setting outside in the courtyard. We ordered a bottle of wine and dinner and the fun began, we laughed all night, I was my usual stupid self with the wait staff and some of the guests and we had a great time.
Dinner was delicious and we even had another bottle of wine and dessert.
When we left, Fr. Tomasz laughingly said this was another place he couldn’t go back to because of his very crazy American friends, but he did say he was learning from me. I don’t know if that is good or bad.
Before we said goodnight, he invited us to mass in the morning at a private chapel with the same order of Sisters that we saw on Tuesday. We then hugged and kissed and we went our separate ways to home. Now it was dark, so this was unusual for us and I was afraid to look at the time. I didn’t care it was a great night and we can sleep on the plane tomorrow on our way to Paris.
Susan and I laughed for almost another hour about the day and finally at 12:30 AM we got in to bed and that’s really all I remember.
God bless all of you
Susan & Tom
Spiritual Mother of Mercy, True Queen of Angels, Pray for me, Pray for all people on Earth that we bend our wills to your loving guidance now. Please Pray with me now. Show me God’s Perfect Will for me today.
I was very refreshed and ready for another day. I let Susan sleep for another hour and when she got up we had breakfast and showered and watched a little news and as we finished downloading photos and picking out ones we will send. At 11:00 we left for the St. John Paul II Center where we were going to mass at noon.
After our traditional cappuccino, we went into the shrine and walked thru some of the special chapels and said a few prayers until it was time for mass. There wasn’t a First Holy Communion today but there were quite a few children in training for theirs and Father Paul quizzed them at the homily and they did pretty good. Now, you are probably wondering how we knew the priests’ name….we didn’t, but we did meet him after, as Fr. Tomasz told us to go to the Sacristy and ask for him.
We wanted to purchase an ex-voto in gratitude for the miracles St John Paul has given us over the years, including Katrina who couldn’t speak but now does and in answering Susan’s prayers for me. The first priest we met was him and after we explained everything to him he took us to where the ex-voto would be and we went up to his office and planned to meet him Wednesday at 1 to 2 PM, we needed money.
We left the shrine and went to the Divine Mercy Shrine, another of our favorite places in Krakow; it is very close to the JP II Center. We went directly to the chapel where there is 24 hour adoration all the time and one of the Sisters are always present. This is very holy place and we love to pray Our Divine Mercy Chaplet here as we have done so many times.
There was a sister behind us during our stay and she smiled at Susan and me as we left as if to say thank you, since this wasn’t a photo op our tourist stop for us, she knew what we were doing.
Before leaving we went to the altar where the remains of Saint Faustina lie and where she had encounters with Jesus many times. We reverenced her relic and thanked her and our Lord for this wonderful devotion that St. John Paul II made into a worldwide phenomena and is practiced by so many people.
Editors’ Note: The painting of Divine Mercy you see here is a copy, the original painting of Divine Mercy is actually in Vilnius, Lithuania (click here for that story).
From here we went to the military cemetery where the mother, father and brother of St. John Paul were buried, we had to thank them for our Saint. When we left we were only 6.8 kilometers from our hotel and it was the looooooooooongist drive we have had. It took almost an hour with traffic, but who was in a hurry. Today the temperature was 94, the hottest day we had, and the day we arrived it was in the 40’s one of the coldest days of our trip. That’s Krakow!
Back at the apartment we started to pack and that was a bummer, but we read some e-mails and one from our cousins Joan and Lou made us laugh so hard. She innocently said we may need weight watchers when we get back because of the 5 meals on Sunday and all the food on the trip and little did she know she was right, since we were laughing about the weight gain in the morning.
We had tomorrow and Thursday morning, but the time has been flying by.
We were going tonight to St Francis church to pray our Rosary in the pew that is clearly marked; where Saint John Paul II did every day he was in Krakow as a priest and in the Palace as the Archbishop.
From there we had planned to try a new restaurant that had an interesting menu.
The restaurant had a courtyard dining area and it was cool and inviting. There was only one waitress and she got swamped right after we got our wine and had ordered. The oriental family next to us had said hello but that was all they knew. We won the heart of their son and he became a real pest, I think he was a little spoiled but he was fun. We met another couple from Chicago and had a nice conversation with them. Our food arrived and we were done talking, time for eating and was it good and was it large. We took some home.
Back at the apt. we continued to pack and I started this trip report. I got 2 lines done, Susan got the large suitcase done, and I sneaked in part of a movie on TV. Time for bed, and so we did, and that’s all I remember.
God added: “This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come, of the Covenant between Me and you and every living creature with you: I set My bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the Covenant between Me and the Earth … as the bow appears in the clouds, I will see it and recall the everlasting Covenant that I have established between God and All Living Beings … all Mortal Creatures that are on Earth.”
— Genesis 9:12-16
It was tough getting up this morning, 5 AM came very early. A couple cups of coffee and we could at least find the shower and the cold water revived us. Today was special, were are going to mass at the Church of St. John the Baptist and St. John the Evangelist and our dear friend Fr. Tomasz is presiding. All the time we have known him, we have never been able to attend mass where he was the celebrant.
This 6:30 AM mass he does every day for the Sisters of the Presentation, and today they invited us, and they were treating us to breakfast after mass. This is where the second box of candy gets dropped off. We have been to mass with the Sisters at the Archbishop’s Palace last year at the chapel where St. John Paul II was ordained and Cardinal Dziwisz had invited us and presided. That was 6:30 AM too, they get going early here.
Walking the Old Town of Krakow at 6 AM is very peaceful and it took about 15 minutes to get to the church. This beautiful little church holds the treasure of the Miraculous Image of Our Lady of Grace. The first miracle was in 1633 when She freed a prisoner from his chains after he prayed to Her and numerous others have happened thru the years by Our Lady’s intercession, so we offered up mass for all the intentions we carry.
When we arrived the Sisters were praying and singing hymns and their morning prayers so we knelt and prayed and at the beginning of mass, Fr. Tomasz and a con-celebrant knelt before the altar and we all knelt as they led a series of prayers as the Madonna was slowly unveiled. It was very reverent and a beautiful way to begin your day with Mary, Our Mother.
Today at communion we were blessed with being able to receive the Precious Blood of Jesus as Fr. Tomasz tinctured the Host in to a small chalice and we all received. This is the first time in Poland and our entire trip that we have received Jesus in both species and we do miss it.
Breakfast was in a private dining and one of the Sisters took care of everything. They had a wide assortment of food so after Father said grace we all chowed down and talked and laughed as we caught up on many things. There will be no eating until tonight as we were pleasantly full and so happy to be together with our friend.
We walked back together to the Palace were Fr. Tomasz works in his new role as Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Krakow. We made plans for Wednesday’s night dinner and after lots of hugs and kisses he went to work and we talked about going back to bed.
We decided that today would be hamburger day and we would cook here and spend the day and night in doing laundry, catching up on trip reports and maybe even a nap, but that didn’t happen….we needed to go shopping in order to pull this off, so we did, and getting back into town was slow, so it took over an hour for the trip. We were now completely exhausted, but still managed to type, cook and do laundry… Susan was around somewhere.
We accomplished what we had to and even watched a little TV. I called the maintenance man because the TV in the bedroom wasn’t working and he came around 7:30. I half laid on the bed as he did something and got it working. I thanked him and went in to check it out so I laid down and that’s all I remember until the morning, almost 12 hours later.
May God Bless Each and Every One Of You!
Tom & Susan Melillo
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418 (USA)
Dear God, You are my source, my goal. I surrender all that transpires in my life to Your Loving Providence. Thank You for allowing Your Blessed Mother to take me by the hand into your Divine will. Remember me kindly when I stumble, for You are kindness. Place me, gently, into the caldron of incense that perfumes Your Divine Love. You, alone, are Holy. Blessed be God Forever.
Mary is called the Temple of the Lord and the Sacred Resting Place of the Holy Spirit: For by the operation of the Holy Spirit, She became the Mother of the Incarnate Word.
— St. Thomas Aquinas
Sunday morning 5 AM and I’m up, and the café wasn’t even ready, and Susan crawled out of bed. You can’t be late for a Nun or it could be arthritis on the other hand. We were early, so we stopped for a cappuccino and water for our guest.
We arrived at Sisters Maria’s sister’s house right on schedule and there were a lot of hugs and kisses as they welcomed us. All that were there were going to Nowy Sacz for the festivities. We loaded Sister and Joe into the car and now we had baggage in the back seat again. The Angels had to move a little.
We headed out at 7:30 and Sister Angela leads us in a short few prayers to protect us on our journey before Jag woke up and we made the 1 ¾ hour drive laughing, talking and getting to know each other in 1 ¼ hours. Sister Angela has been in Africa as a missionary sister for a loooong time and that is where she met Sister Maria and they have been friends ever since. Joe moved to Italy over 30 years ago and little did we know that the United Nations were going to be represented. Sister has family in Italy, Germany and Poland and friends coming from The USA, (the two of us and her friend Delores), Africa and somewhere else, that’s all we remember, we met so many people.
We were given a warm greeting when we arrived with lots of you know what. Sister Maria’s family was great and we felt right at home.
They had food and coffee for us and not having breakfast we indulged and it was great. (Meal 1) We met many of the family now and we all headed for the church that we could see from the house.
We met the pastor before mass and then we all went in to pray and they had a seat of honor ready for Sister for the mass. The celebration began before the mass when 7 young girls came out and honored Sister in Polish with a tribute and we forgot to ask what they said, but it was beautiful. They presented her with roses and the mass began with a full procession and a beautiful choir.
The church was packed and Sister was acknowledged all through the service, at the beginning, the homily and before the final blessing. Another group of the pastoral committee came out and they lovingly paid a tribute to her and gave her a large basket of roses and she placed on the altar and left them there. She did take the red roses.
The pastor invited Sister to speak and her speech was vibrant and we could tell from her heart and when she had finished and returned to her place of honor the pastor stood up and she stood ,”wait I forgot something”. She then proceeded to thank all of us in English that had traveled from abroad, just as she had in Polish, she received her second standing ovation, and it was really beautiful.
The pastor then as a special tribute and led a procession of the Eucharist as the churches all did on Thursday for Corpus Christi and had Sister follow the procession right behind Jesus as they processed around the church. Not a single soul left. After the final blessing we hung back and took a few photos and headed for the reception.
They had the reception at this lovely hotel and the banquet room was perfect for the size of the group of about 60-70 people. She had us at the head table, much to our embarrassment. Sister said she had the different languages sitting with each other so they would have a good time.
Then the feast began in Polish tradition. (Meal 2) Chicken soup was served and on the tables there 4 different salads and then they served platters of breaded pork cutlets, stuffed breast of chicken, pork tenderloin in a mushroom sauce and platters with 3 kinds of potatoes. There were 3 different juices and sodas and gas water. We all took what we wanted and if the platter got low more came, an insane amount of very good food.
After that was over they cut the cake made by her niece and served cappuccino, café and tea.We were full and enjoyed every bit of it. It was almost 2, and I thought it was a little early to begin to say goodbye, until Susan informed me Sister told her to have some desserts before the next course comes out. Oh boy, I was ready for a nap because we had just eaten a huge piece of this five layer cake that was delicious and I don’t eat dessert.
Meal 3 then arrived and there were new salads with beef and chicken and dressing, Greek salad, Caesar salad, tomato and mozzarella, platters of cold sliced stuffed roulades, five different kinds of hearing in sauces and an aspic of I think chicken and veggies and topped with vodka and since we arrived there were trays of pastries and fruit that they kept refilling.
It looked so good we had to try it. I almost OD’d on the herring…..it was terrific. Susan picked a little we were all so full. So it was time for a walk led by sister Maria and her niece, Katia, there were 6 of us and we visited the church where sister received her First Holy Communion, her childhood church, and then we went to the Basilica to see the famous statue depicting the Pieta. We walked maybe 1-2 kilometers and headed back to the reception. When we got back sister brought her nephew Wojtek over to our table and he sat with us until we left. His English was perfect and we had a great time with him. He invited us to stay with him the next time we come to Poland. His wife was lovely, although we didn’t get to talk to her very much; she organized the day for the family and was very busy for most of the day. We did accept his invitation.
Meal 4 came at 5 on the dot. This was the hot meal and remember they eat small at night so they served a very large croquette that we still don’t know what it was filled with but it was good. We did best we could.
Around 6 people started to leave and so did we, Joe and Sister Angela were both tired as were we. More hugs and kisses from everyone, including people we had not met. On the road it was little tedious getting back since it was the end of a long weekend but we finally got to Joe’s sister’s house and dropped him. We were taking Sister Angela to her Sister’s house not too far away. Finding it was a different story. Her sister lives in a complex that is so huge with 70 large buildings and one street name so navigating is difficult. After 10 minutes we asked for help and the woman Sister didn’t even understand all that she said but we got enough out of the hand language and 5 minutes later we were at her building.
Sister insisted we come up to meet her family and even though we were tired we parked and went with her. She is so sweet we couldn’t say no until we met her sister and she had just made pizza for us. Sister Angela called her after we had been gone an hour and the fresh pizza was made but as good as it smelled, we couldn’t pick up food…….let alone, eat it.
We made it a short visit and departed for home, exhausted and ready for a glass of wine and our jammies which we did as soon as we got in. Tomorrow we had to be up 5 again so we talked for awhile and I went into bed and that’s all I remember.
God bless you all
Susan & Tom
Prayer for the Sisters
My Spiritual Mother, please remain in their conscious awareness always. Inspire them when they are weak, gently speak to them when they are stressed, sing them lullabies of the wonders of God’s Providence when they fall into fear, graciously cover them in the warmth of Jesus’ Divine Love for you and for them forever. Spiritual Mother, please Pray for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit of Love upon them. Bring anew the Holy Spirit of Courage to their days and nights on Earth. Pray fervently that they may be made worthy of the Promises of Christ.
Only the person who renounces Self-Importance, who no longer struggles to defend or assert himself, can be large enough for God’s Boundless action.
— St. Edith Stein
Slept until 8 today (Susan 8:15) and realized that our plans had changed when we opened our e-mail. Our friend Fr. Pat, whom we were supposed to meet today in Krakow, had a family funeral today so we probably wouldn’t get to see him. We didn’t realize until Sunday that he and his sister didn’t go to the funeral, but his cousin who drove him had to go and they were held hostage because the family didn’t want them to take the train to Krakow. Maybe they aren’t old enough.
If we had known that we would have driven to them for lunch and long time coming reunion. We were supposed to go there anyway today for his nephew’s First Holy Communion, which is why he is in Poland, but when he got here they gave him the wrong day and it was on Thurs and we were 150 miles away.
We even thought we could go to the airport on Mon. morning to say hi and get a warm hug, but we have plans and don’t know if we will finish in time. We haven’t seen Fr. Pat in years and so we all decided now he has to come back to Palm Beach after such a valiant effort.
We lounged around and I took all the files out, all 3 of them…………we started with 36 and one of the 3 was just full of credit card receipts, lovely, we have to come home soon and then we have to pay for the trip. Totally depressed we decided to go back to the St. John Paul Center for noon mass. It was cold and rainy out and taking the car seemed like a better idea than walking. Afterwards we planned to come back to the Apartment and do some more lounging. Before we got out the door Susan had pulled out the holy water we had acquired. The holy water from Ludzmierz water a beautiful rust color and the legend of the well was suspect to begin with, needless to say it won’t be going into our mixture of healing spring waters from Our Blessed Mother from 7 countries and 23 shrines. We have had some of these waters for 11 years and they are all still crystal clear.
We realized it was almost 11:15 so we had to hurry and had time to spare for a cappuccino.
There was another First Holy Communion group coming in and we had to laugh, since we always handle and love this at the Cathedral every year and this year we couldn’t, because I was radioactive after the Y-90 treatment.
We made up for the miss by attending 20+ here in Poland.
Editor’s note: Click here to read about Tom’s battle with cancer and his successful treatment
After mass we went upstairs to pray the Rosary in front of the Our Lady of Fatima statue at the main altar. She has been present in every church we have been into in honor of the 100th anniversary. I’m sure we have one at the Cathedral???
We got thru the first decade and a large group came in for a presentation and we moved to Our Lady of Czestochowa chapel to finish, where we lit candles for all the intentions we carry. We actually lit 4 today, since we missed yesterday. We then went to the chapel of Our Lady of Piekary Salaskie and prayed our morning prayers.
After 2 hours we were on our way back to the apartment since the weather hadn’t changed and we were cold but first we needed a car wash since we were picking up Sister Angela and Joe, the brother of our friend Sister Maria from St. Vincent in Delray Beach, Fl. She was here to celebrate her 50 Anniversary with the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and invited us to the ceremony on Sunday. We were honored and offered to pick up guest or family in Krakow.
Washing the car in the rain is great because there is no one ahead of you and vacuuming after in the rain is really stupid, but Jag needed some attention and the rain had stopped, so she was beautiful and spotless when we got back to the garage. Susan ended up in the wash alone in the car and I’m sure I heard a couple of ooh’s and aah’s. Back now it was 3 PM and Divine Mercy hour so we prayed and then had a drink and relaxed until we forgot we had to go buy some chocolates at the best chocolate store in Krakow, so off we went and got 2 nice big boxes of assorted chocolate delights, one for tomorrow and one for Monday.
By time we got back our drink was warm so we threw it out and had a glass of wine before going to dinner. We were not venturing far from home, just across the street was a Sushi Place and it is meatless Saturday` so it was perfect…….well, almost perfect.
Getting fresh and a variety of sushi in any foreign country is hard, except for Japan, and Poland was no exception. What they had was very good but the favorite things Susan likes, forget it, octopus, giant clam, fresh squid, all the chewy stuff, they don’t carry. Look, we didn’t starve…..a nice order of shrimp and calamari teriyaki, some tuna rolls and I had an assortment of sushi, things Susan doesn’t eat. We had beer because they didn’t have saki….oops. Oh well, our waitress was very nice and we left her a big egg roll when we left.
Back to the apartment to layout our clothes and get set up for Sunday, since we will voluntarily begin ground hog day for the next 2 days. I set the alarm for 5 AM and that’s all I remember.
We were out of bed at 7, together (no coffee in the room) and went down for a cup of coffee. The waiter from the night before was on duty again and we laughed and asked what room he was in. He was a very educated young man in his early 20 and was studying chemistry with dreams of going to America.
Over coffee we made our plan for the day, check-in was 2 and we wanted to go to Mass so why not the St. John Paul II shrine in Krakow. I figured it was about 1 ½ hours away so went to shower and pack our 2 grocery bags we used for luggage. I think we are done lugging all these bags in and out. It actually worked out pretty good except we looked like homeless people.
We went back in for breakfast and forgot the camera again, I think it’s tired too. They made us eggs to go along with the nice buffet they had and refreshed and ready we paid the bill and got into Jag. Susan set the GPS and it said we would arrive at 12:10, late for the noon mass. Have no fear Jag is here, we arrived at 11:40 and time for a cup of coffee.
We went into Mass downstairs where it usually is and to our surprise we heard beautiful music from the main church upstairs. We were excited, for in the 3 times we have been here we never attended a Mass in the upper church.
Click here for more information about the John Paul II Center in Krakow, with some great photos from Tom & Sue’s previous trip.
Today they were celebrating a high Mass and there had to be 20 priest and 2 Deacons. Mass was beautiful and when the homily started I took a walk to the little boys room, the long way and slowly climbed the stairs back figuring it had to be close to the end. Wrong, it was another 20 minutes and we really get disappointed………we can’t understand, especially when the voice of the priest is so inviting.
After the Mass ended we got in the car and headed for our Apartment. There will be plenty of time at the shrine and I have to clean this stick I just changed in the camera because all the photos are from last year in Krakow and we have different clothes, well at least Susan does!
The apartment is only 10 minutes away with traffic and when we got there the girl meeting us hadn’t arrived so Susan got out and I went around the block. They we talking and she didn’t realize I booked parking and I passed the entrance so around the block I went again and we were finally in. This is the hardest part of booking apartments but we are used to it and it is worth it, as was with this place, pretty nice and big. For the next week we will be very comfortable and the Old Town is just around the block, trust me I know.
Susan unpacked, as usual, all the suitcases for the last time and I went to the market hopefully for the last time. We don’t know where the time went and every day has been a spiritual adventure like we have never had before. We didn’t know if it would be difficult traveling the country, especially into small villages and where we knew people hardly or ever see Americans but we made out fine. It has been truly a marvelous adventure we will never forget.
Krakow is like home and we know our way around the Old Town pretty well, so we have our favorite places to go and that’s what we did around 6 PM for dinner. We left the apartment and after 4 minutes when we got to 3 Franciszkanska, where we have met with Cardinal Dziwisz 3 times and where our friend Fr. Tomasz still lives, it started to rain and it was cold so I did the noble thing and bought an umbrella (like we needed one, we had 2 of our own in Jag and 3 in the apartment). It stopped raining right after I opened it. I tried to sell it for 1/3 of the price but I didn’t get any takers. Hopefully it will rain again before we get home so I don’t feel so stupid.
We got the last table at this Hungarian restaurant that has the best goulash we have ever had, plus a mixed sausage and kelbasa casserole full of wild mushrooms. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, so that’s what we ordered, the same as the last time we were here. The owner recognized us after we started laughing and joking with our waitresses. The owner said hello and waited on us the rest of the evening. We all laughed and laughed, as everyone else in the place was reserved and somber.
I tried to sell her the umbrella when the bill came and I was going to throw in the plastic handle wrap and sheath for free. More laughter and down right stupidity and then we all hugged and they were still laughing as we went out the door.
Still no rain so I lowered the price and as we passed the stand where I bought it I thought she might buy it back and sell it again for a tidy profit but Susan wouldn’t let me. We were home in less than 10 minutes and it started raining as soon as we got in the door. We had BBC on the TV and watched some news and checked e-mails, we had a bunch and it was great. One of our friends sister, whom he had been forwarding our reports to, sent him an e-mail to thank us so he forwarded this beautiful response to us and we thought we would share it with all of you. Things like this make these pilgrimages all worth while.
I got ready for bed and Susan wanted to watch TV so I laid down to say my prayers and that’s all I remember.
I don’t remember where I ended up with the last report so if I repeat myself, pardon me.
I woke up at 5:30 A.M. … Susan came around the corner at 6AM when the coffee was ready. I showered and shaved last night (in the bathtub) so that we could get an early start. I got into the tub okay … I almost couldn’t get out! This bathtub/shower combination is the dumbest thing I’ve ever seen.
We had our coffee, our bags were packed and we were out the door before 7:00 A.M. Our plan was to try to miss the morning traffic in Zakopane. We did a good job with our planning. There was hardly anyone driving out of Zakopane today … but lots of people were driving in the opposite direction to the mountains.
We had decided to drive back to Ludzmierz because Susan had figured out on her Internet search where the Miraculous Water Font was. The day we had left there, we thought we had seen it but we never thought to stop to find out if that was the location. Once we saw the photo online last night, we realized that we should have stopped. We found it right away. I had to pump the water from the well and I pumped and pumped and pumped and finally some water came out. I filled the bottle, dumped it and filled it again to try to get some fresh miraculous water.
Mission accomplished, we got right back on the road. There was no one in front of us on the roads on the way out but, once again, the cars in the opposite direction were backed up for miles and miles with no one moving. We had to head to the outskirts of Krakow to pick up “A-4” … the “Super Highway” and Jag had a super time … as did I! The speed limit was 140 Kilometers per hour. If you were driving that speed, everyone would pass you. Well, only two cars passed Jag during our entire journey on A-4. We made the 150 KM trip in just about one hour. Before we exited and got back on to normal roads, it felt like we were crawling.
As we were traveling, we noticed that every Church we passed, there were large numbers of people standing outside on the terraces and there were cars parked everywhere. Susan was checking her emails on the cell phone and we received two … one from our friend Wojtek and the other from our new friend “John” (where we spent three wonderful nights at their apartment outside of Wadowice). Both informed us that today in Poland was “Corpus Christi” … both a Catholic and National Holiday here. They both told us that the locals only attend their Churches with large processions throughout the towns and then they stay home (as if Sunday) because all of the businesses, restaurants, shops, etc. are closed down for the day. So the two of us realized … THAT’S WHY TRAFFIC WAS SO LIGHT and we saw no real signs if life on the streets.
We stopped during our drive for a 2nd pit stop and had breakfast (or lunch … whatever you would consider it). I had prepared some sandwiches last night and they were GOOOOOOD! Having refreshed ourselves, we drove the last 15 miles to our destination … The Basilica of Our Lady of Lezajsk.
This Shrine’s history began in 1578 when the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph appeared to a woodcutter named “Tomasz/Thomas”. She told him that she had chosen this place to be “Where Her Son will be loved and respected and, whoever shall call on my Intercession here will receive my Blessing”. Thomas didn’t listen and report her requests at first … so click here to read the story for the rest of the story. It’s a bit confusing but you will understand.
We arrived and the Basilica was absolutely mobbed. As we pulled up, there was a very small parking lot right in front of the Church and another large parking lot on the opposite side of the street. Both were packed with cars as well as the street going up the hill. There were parked cars everywhere and people walking everywhere. I notice a car pulling out of the parking lot in front of the Basilica so I decided to “take a chance”. There, lo and behold, there was one parking place right there in front of the Church … Thank you Blessed Mother! I didn’t think I was going to find a place anywhere.
I parked and opened my car door to get out. All of a sudden this “large man” ran up to the car door and started speaking very, very quickly and excited to me IN POLISH! I thought he was trying to tell me to move but we had a language barrier. I finally said “AMERICAN” and he laughed, smiled and quickly walked away from the car (what was that all about?).
We hadn’t walked 50 feet from the car and we were directly in front of the Basilica. This guy walked up to me and, in English, he said “Where are you from?”. I said “Florida” (What? Do I have a big “T” on my forehead?). He told me (with a Polish accent) that he was from Philadelphia. He then introduced us to two of his other friends who were both also Polish but live in Philly as well. Then the man who had come running up to our car when I parked came into the group … he was a friend of the guy who was talking to us. That man was the POLICE CHIEF of the town. They were all childhood friends who had been born and lived here until leaving for the States around 10 years old.
The “police chief” had gone to tell the three Americans that we were there … he thought that we were all friends. They don’t get many Jags in Poland that have Warsaw license plates. We all shared a laugh and the police chief kept talking to me with great excitement … but in Polish.
There was a lot of activity as they began to form for the procession around the town with lots of Banners, statues, a band, altar servers and of course First holy Communion children. Mass had been celebrated at 9 and the procession was next. (See photos) We couldn’t believe the amount of people that poured out of the basilica to follow the priest with the Monstrance with Jesus. Our friends followed and we hung behind for this was a 2 hour walk. We planned to go to the 12 noon mass but I guess the schedule changed and as we entered the Basilica the 11 AM Mass began.
The Basilica is amazingly beautiful and the place was packed to the outside. We were wondering where they all came from for this Shrine is in the sticks in this small village. The priest gave a verrrrrrry looooooong sermon but he was so vibrant we had to laugh a few times almost knowing the point he was trying to get across. He looked like Fr. Della Russo, our new chancellor at the diocese. (We are going to have to have a chat about the length of his homilies).
Communion was very different here and you just went to the end of your pew if you had one and knelt on the stone floor and the priest walked back and forth up and down the aisle and gave you the Eucharist. Susan and I had a bench some family vacated and there was only one spot to kneel and I couldn’t turn around or move to let her go so I knelt and Susan climbed over two benches to get a spot, good thing for she was the last to receive and the priest were gone. When we knelt on the kneelers in front of us, they were so tilted that we had to hang on so we didn’t slide off. During the whole mass a small little girl was roaming on the large altar behind the priest and God didn’t seem to mind, so neither did anyone else. Even though we chuckled at times it was beautiful.
What I loved so much was after the priest gave the final blessing they started a song to Mary and everyone sang and no one left even after the priest did. Not a single person leaves a service early at every mass we have been to here in Poland. When the song was done some sat for a few minutes and the others left so Susan and I went to explore the Basilica and we found a Miraculous Cross of Christ behind the altar that you could venerate by touching the glass enclosure. Many people came in to do so and say a short prayer.
We then found the Miraculous Painting of Our Mother in a small chapel on the right and many people were on their knees praying for just a few seconds. When most had left we went into the chapel and sat with a few others whom quickly left and then it was just Susan and I here with this magnificent painting, it was magical. What better place than to pray our Rosary as it seemed Our Mother and Our Lord were here with us and blessing us as we did so.
We began to wonder when the procession would get back so we went out to the parking area we came in and I had a chance to move the car to a better spot so it would be easier to get out and as I did so it seemed that buses just dropped off 100’s of people. Susan and I sat on a bench and just watched as the kept coming and coming. We kept saying where is the procession and then I heard the music and excitedly said to Susan I hear them they are coming. She laughed and laughed for she had just re-player a phone camera video she had taken earlier and that’s what I heard. DUH!
We couldn’t take it anymore as a large van pulled in and backed into the outer entrance of the Basilica so we went up to see what was going on as people outside the walls stood and faced the Church. They had all the statues and banners and the Coppola in the truck and I said to Susan, where is Jesus? We still don’t know, since mass had started and people were standing outside and everywhere, a whole new group for this great day of celebration in Poland. We got out of the way and headed for our hotel.
About 40 minutes later we were checking into this very nice hotel and they had a restaurant so we wouldn’t go to bed hungry since everything else was closed. We met a lot of people there including some teen age kids that sat with us and we talked for a long time about the problems of Poland with the young. That’s another story.
Dinner was excellent and very elegant and we forgot the camera so I won’t bore you to death. We went to our room and typed part of this report but got tired so into bed we went and that’s all I remember.
God Bless you all
Susan & Tom
Stay with them, Dear Mother of God. Keep them in your Heart of Love, for You, alone, are the true daughter of God the Father, Eternal Mother of God the Son, and cherished spouse of God the Holy Spirit. Spiritual Mother, Most Powerful, keep them centered in God’s Plan for their life forever. Amen.
I had a marvelous sleep until 7:30, Susan 7:50, the coffee was ready. We were not in a hurry to leave our beautiful home as we called it and we enjoyed a casual breakfast around 10. John, our host didn’t want us to leave either…..and said we could stay until much later, and he would even give us drinks and feed us. It was tempting but we had a schedule to keep and said our goodbye’s around noon. We even said goodbye to Max since he created a new mound just for us.
Editor’s note: Just in case you did not read the previous post, the owner of the house they are staying in has a problem with groundhogs digging up his land. One of the, Tom & Sue named “Max”.
Our home, on wheels, was loaded and the back seat looked a little more organized. It was on to Zakopane, a very popular ski resort, in the Tatra Mountains with a stop on the way to Our Lady of Ludzmierz. Of course it is another miraculous statue of our Mother thought to be at least 600 years old. St. John Paul II had a special affection for this Sanctuary from 1963. (Click here to see the Story)
We didn’t know what to expect, but with all the stops we have made we were never disappointed and this Shrine was no exception. The Minor Basilica is out in the middle of nowhere, so to speak, and on the only major road in the area. We came in the back way and parked near the religious monastery and pilgrim center. It was a good thing since they were painting the parking lot and it was closed.
We couldn’t get a feel for the Shrine until we walked 100 ft and this expansive field with the way of the cross came into view. There weren’t many people around so we went to the Sanctuary of Our Mother to explore and pray. The Basilica was smaller than most but didn’t lessen the spirituality we have experienced in the sacred places we have been blessed to visit.
The statue of Our Lady is Beautiful and on the Scepter you can see the Papal ring of St. JPII and the relic that was placed there after his death given by our friend Cardinal Dziwisz.
We took some photos and sat and prayed our Rosary for all the intentions we have with us and then we lit candles and Susan wrote in the intention book.
We needed a cafe latte and a WC so we went to the cafeteria on the grounds next to the gift shop which we had to go into.(we are throwing out clothes, so we have room for all the mementos we have bought, it’s either that or another suitcase).
From there we went to the Rosary path and the place was more active than when we arrived. We prayed Divine Mercy in front of the statue of St. John Paul II amidst the chaos of all the families around, but we didn’t hear a thing.
We were looking for the holy water spring and walked the all the grounds but came up empty. There was a pond and we thought that was it but I saw a hose feeding the waterfall into the pond. No one could understand us, so we left disappointed but still elated from our visit and headed for Zakopane about 20 minutes away without traffic. (Do they have traffic?)
We pulled down our street and missed our hidden turn and came up to this large building and it didn’t look like the picture of our hotel so I asked Susan to go to reception and see if they had our room ready or get directions. I was laughing as she walked away because I saw the sign for sanatorium, maybe this was a sign.
We finally asked a woman for help and she explained how to go in Polish and I left shaking my head, I didn’t understand a thing but Susan knew exactly where to go and we found our resort and spa. This one was nothing like Hotel Bardo, but it would be fine for our 2-night stay.
Hungry, we went out for a bite and not far from the apartment we pulled into a nice looking restaurant and had dinner. Susan ordered a pork cutlet Milanese and we laughed so hard when it came out.(see photos) I have never seen one so big and never thought she could eat it all, but she did.(I helped a little) The food was great and we departed for the grocery store for milk for our morning coffee.
Back at the apt Susan worked on her e-mails and I tried to watch TV because I was too tired to do anything else. I went to bed at 9 and Susan some time later because that’s all I remember.
I slept until 7:30, except for one major cramp and a trip to the little boy’s room. Coffee was ready at 7:52 and so was Susan. We planned our day and dressed warm, so we thought. We wanted to take a cable car up the mountain (I brought an extra xanax for Susan) but our first stop was the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima in Zakopane, dedicated by St. John Paul II to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on June 7, 1997. We arrived 7 days late for the 20th Anniversary celebration.
Click here for background information about the Shrine.
This minor Basilica was another surprise as we pulled into the parking area full with tour buses. It was much bigger than we expected and the grounds went into the woods with the Way of Calvary. Mass was going on with another First Holy Communion group and this was the most organized one I had seen of the 20 others we attended. You could actually see the children receiving from the priest as everyone stayed seated. There was another one scheduled in 20 minutes so we went out to explore.
There are two foundation stones in the Basilica, one from St. Peters in Rome and one from Fatima. Also under each foundation stone in the Basilica there is a Miraculous Medal of Our Lady which originated from Shrine of Our Lady in Rue du Bac, Paris
We found the chapel of the Miraculous Statue of Our Lady where 50 people had just left. We were alone and decided to pray Our Rosary and go to the 12 noon Mass. It was so peaceful and spiritual praying in there together, especially for so many in need. The statue of Our Lady was beautiful and neither of us took our eyes off Her. When we finished the Rosary we decided to say our morning prayers and did so until some people came in so we left and finished later so we wouldn’t disturb them.
We got to Mass just before 12 and we sat in the front pew. These were the largest pews we have seen here and I was almost comfortable and I could actually kneel. The priest thru a couple curves at us since he started with some prayers we couldn’t figure out and he used Eucharistic prayer 4 instead of 1 which we have had the whole time we were here. We managed as always and had our readings to follow the lector and gospel.
When mass ended we took a few photos and went to the back and placed a copy in the box of all the intentions we have received and carried with us to be offered up, thru the intercession of St. JPII to Our Lady at Saturdays 7 PM Mass.
We left and headed for the shrine dedicated to St. John Paul (Ksiezowka) that our dear friend Fr. Tomasz(Little Tom) told us we must see. It was closed and locked down tight. No problem, this was on the way to the cable car that we had planned to go up the mountain on. On the way I took a picture that reminded me of Susan eating last night. (Ouch, I just got wacked) When we got there I realized I forgot to give Susan the Xanax, but she got out of the car anyway and we didn’t last long for it was still cold and this was a 3 shirt and jacket day so we decided not to go and take a chance of getting sick.
We passed this Italian Restaurant on the way and we were both starving so that’s where we headed. It was very lovely and warm inside and the food was outstanding, grilled octopus and baked gnocchi’s with porcini mushrooms and spinach.(I getting hungry again) Needless to say, we ate it all.
Before going back to the apartment we went to the market and picked up a few things to pick on tonight and to have for our long drive tomorrow to Lezjac. It took almost an hour there were so many people in line, it made Costco look good.
We took a wrong turn and ended up at another ski lift. The sun had come out finally but when Susan saw their feet dangling off the chairs there was no way I was going to get her on it. We are in for the night Susan has been packing and I have been typing for 2 hours so I quit for now because there is nothing else to remember.