In the Footsteps of John Paul II
The city of Kraków and the Malopolska region are the homeland of Karol Wojtyła , the future Pope John Paul II. This is where the beautiful story of his life begins and where he would often return in his memories as well as the papal visits: “I was born here in this land. I have spent most of my life here in Kraków (...) And it was here that I received the grace of vocation to the priesthood (...). It was here in the Wawel Chapel that I was consecrated a bishop”.
Kraków abounds in places associated with the Pope. One of the most significant examples is the Palace of the Archbishops in Franciszkańska Street. This is where he lived as bishop and where he stayed during his pilgrimages to Poland as John Paul II. Standing at one of the windows, he greeted countless multitude of the faithful and conducted the famous evening conversations with young people. They became the most amazing and engaging tradition in the history of the papacy. The Pope talked to the people, sang with them, joked but most importantly gave very important and profound catechesis.
Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy - the capital of the Divine Mercy devotion
The Sanctuary is located in the District of Kraków-Łagiewniki at Saint Faustina street. Its inception was inspired by the life and the activity of Saint Faustina Kowalska - the apostle of spreading of the Devotion to The Divine Mercy. Since the 1940s, pilgrims have been coming to worship the miraculous image of Merciful Jesus and visit the Sister Faustina's tomb.
In 1992, the chapel of Saint Joseph situated within the complex of the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy was raised to the rank of The Shrine of the Divine Mercy. The dynamic development of the Sanctuary came after the beatification of Faustina Kowalska on April 18, 1993 and her canonization on April 30, 2000 but also thanks to pilgrimages of Pope John Paul II in 1997 and 2002 and Pope Benedict XVI in 2006.
The sanctuary consists of:
- Historical complex of The Convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy
- Modern Basilica of Divine Mercy
- Chapel of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
- Pastoral House
- Hall of John Paul II
- Souvenirs and Gift Shops
- Pastoral and social facilities
The Chapel of Saint Joseph with the Miraculous Image of the Merciful Jesus and the Tomb of Saint Faustina
It is a part of the neo-Gothic complex of The Convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy that was designed by Karol Zaremba, built between 1889-1891 and consecrated by Cardinal Albin Dunajewski on 20 August 1891. Its interior design is particularly noteworthy: the statues of Our Lady of Mercy, of Saint Stanisław Kostka – the patron of youth, and of Saint Mary Magdalene – the patroness of women-penitents, all three made by an unknown sculptor from Przemyśl; the side altars decorated with paintings of Merciful Jesus, covering the image of the Sacred Heart originally placed there and of Saint Joseph with the Child painted by Father Krudowski; historic paintings on the walls designed in 1934 by Zdzisław Gedliczka and stained glass windows by Wiktor Ostrzołek set during the general renovation and restoration of the chapel in the years 1981-1990.
The Image of the Merciful Jesus
The undeniable treasure of this temple is the image of the Merciful Jesus, painted according to Sister Faustina's vision by Adolf Hyła on 16 April 1944 and blessed by her spiritual director Father Józef Andrasz SJ. The image has quickly become renowned for miracles and graces and its copies as well as reproductions have spread throughout the world. It is the most famous version of the Divine Mercy image. Since 1959, it has remained in the side altar of the Chapel of Saint Joseph, covering the image of the Sacred Heart. It is a depiction of Jesus clothed in a white garment raising his right hand in a gesture of blessing and pointing with his left hand on his cheSaint Two large rays, one red, the other pale, emanating from his heart symbolize Blood of Jesus which is the Life of Souls and Water which makes souls righteous (both issued forth from his Heart when opened by a lance on the Cross).
The Relics of Saint Sister Faustina
In 1966, the mortal remains of Saint Sister Faustina were moved from the convent cemetery to the convent chapel that was entered by Cardinal Karol Wojtyła on the list of sanctuaries in the Archdiocese of Kraków in 1968. As Pope John Paul II in 1985, he called Łagiewniki "the capital of the Divine Mercy devotion" as Sister Faustina, who handed over the prophetic message of Mercy to the world, lived and died in this convent. Since the beatification of Saint Faustina in 1993, her remains rest on the altar, below the image of Divine Mercy. In 1994, a white marble kneeler with a part of her relics was installed in the railing, in order to enable pilgrims coming from all over the world to pay homage to the saint. In front of the chapel, there is a bas-relief bust of Pope John Paul II commemorating his first papal pilgrimage to the Shrine in 1997 and on the other side there is a plaque commemorating the pilgrimage of Pope Benedict XVI on 27 May 2006.
Built in 1999–2002, a modern two-story, ellipsoidal basilica can accommodate about 5,000 people. A 77 meter high tower stands before the basilica and provides a beautiful panoramic view of the city and the surrounding area.
Five chapels are located in the lower part of the basilica:
- Central chapel dedicated to Saint Faustina - a gift of the Italian Episcopate
Four side chapels:
- The Communio Sanctorum Chapel decorated with beautiful mosaics designed by a Hungarian artist László Puská - a gift of the Hungarian Church
- The Chapel of Saint Andrew the Apostle - a Greek Catholic chapel dedicated on June24, 2007, on the 60th anniversary of 'Operation Vistula,' a gift of the Greek Catholic (Uniate) Church from Poland and the Ukraine
- The Holy Cross Chapel - a gift of the German Church
- The Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows - a gift of the Church in Slovakia
The upper part of the basilica has free-standing post-modern Chapel of Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
On 17 August 2002, during his final pilgrimage to Poland, Pope John Paul II consecrated the new church. Since 6 March 2003, it has held the title of Minor Basilica.
During Pope Benedict XVI pilgrimage to Poland in 2006, a statue of Pope John Paul II at the observation tower at the Basilica was unveiled. This was the seventh sculpture of John Paul II in Kraków.
John Paul II’s mound
There is a plan to raise a 50 meters high John Paul II’s mound with the base diameter of 110 metres near the Sanctuary, within the area of former Solvay plants which would be patterned on other Kraków’s mounds.
'Have No Fear!' John Paul II Centre
The centre was established within the area of “White Seas” in Kraków-Łagiewniki. It is the most important center of the living memory of the work of the Polish Pope and the person himself. It is John Paul II’s spiritual church, an expression of gratitude of the Polish nation and all people of good will who feel a close connection with John Paul II as a person and his work, regardless of their nationality and denomination. The legacy of the Pope, his attitude, thoughts, practices, choices, and above all, the ability to unite people in the pursuit of the common good, constitutes a priceless value to us as well as to future generations. 'Have No Fear!' Centre is an intelligible and credible voice aiming at promoting and developing Pope John Paul II’s legacy, spirituality, culture and tradition connected with his life and papacy.
Sanctuary of Saint John Paul II
On June 11, 2011, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz solemnly opened the Sanctuary of Pope John Paul II in Kraków-Łagiewniki. The official cult of John Paul II at this place began when the relics of John Paul II were donated to the sanctuary. The most valuable of them is the Pope’s blood offered by doctors of Gemelli Hospital in Italy. From the Rome collections, the sanctuary received also the papal pastoral cross, mitre and vestments used by the Holy Father.
The ampoule holding the late Pope’s blood, encased in a glass casket, is placed inside a marble altarpiece standing in the centre of the hexagonal Relic Church. Coats of arms of Pope John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz were set in the marble floor. On the walls, there are paintings portraying the Holy Father visiting the most famous Marian shrines around the world.
In the Sanctuary, the faithful can also see a marble slab that covered John Paul II's first burial place in Saint Peter's Basilica, Vatican City. The slab is located at the Chapel resembling the Crypt of Saint Leonard in Wawel, where priest Karol Wojtyła celebrated his inaugural Mass. On the slab, there is a reliquary of an open Book of the Gospels - its pages were turned by the wind during the Pope’s funeral service.