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.