The Krakow district of Łagiewniki is the location of two sanctuaries that draw huge numbers of pilgrims – the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy and the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II. After the recent canonisation of St. John Paull II, the number of visitors to sites associated with his life has increased even more. What are these places that are worth visiting to gain an insight into the life of the Polish Pope? We’ve put together a short Krakow guide with all the answers.
Krakow’s place in the Pope’s life
In 1938, the future Pope, then known as Karol Wojtyla, began his studies at the Phlilosophy Department at the Jagiellonian University, making the university district just off the main square is a good place to start retracing the steps of John Paul II’s presence in Krakow. That’s where you will also find Collegium Maius, part of the university for more than 600 years.
Young Karol moved to Krakow with his father and lived at ul. Tyniecka 10 in a modest two-room apartment. Today the building is marked with a plaque.
During the war, he began his spiritual training in banned underground seminary studies. He performed his first mass in the crypt of St. Leonard in Wawel Castle and many years later he would become a bishop in the Wawel Cathedral.
As a priest and lecturer at the Krakow Seminary and later as an auxiliary bishop, Karol Wojtyla lived at Kanonicza street number 19 in a simple room. When he became bishop, he moved to a more stately residence at number 21 on the same street. Currently, both buidings house exhibits of the Museum of the Archdiocese and feature an extensive collection of sacred art.
A key part of any Krakow sightseeing tour related to John Paul II the Bishop’s Palace on ul. Franciszkanska. This is where he would famously greet well-wishers during his trips to Krakow from what we not call the “Pope’s window” just about the entrance to the Palace. Huge numbers of pilgrims took part in open-air masses organized in the Blonia park on the west side of town, which offers wonderful opportunities to take long walks and remember the legacy of these amazing meetings with the Holy Father.
Krakow city tours with a private guide in the footsteps of JP II
We’ve already mentioned the close connection between the life of Karol Wojtyla and the Wawel Cathedral. There are, of course, many other holy sites associated with him in Krakow like St. Florian’s Church, where he served as a Vicar and St. Mary’s Church. One place in particular where John Paul II and countless pilgrims spend many hours is the Basillca of St. Francis of Assisi, just opposite the Bishop’ Palace. The gorgeous interior is full of bright colors created by stunning stained glass windows that help to create an atmosphere that attracted John Paul II for many sessions of prayer and reflection. The Sanctuary of the Martyrdom of St. Stanislaw, also known as the Paulinian Monastery at Skalka also has a place in the history of the Polish Pope. It was here in 1979, in his first visit to Poland as Pope, that he met with representatives of the world scientific community as well as young people.
John Paul II was also a great advocate of the cult of Divine Mercy. A trip to the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki is another obligatory stop for anyone who wants to trace his footsteps during this Krakow city tour. Right next door is the Holy Sanctuary of St. John Paul II, where visitors can view relics and a museum of items and gifts he received during his Papacy. A visit here is the perfect culmination of an amazing journey through his life and the ideal place to bring our guide to a close.
Learn more about these sites and how easy it is to arrange an experienced local Krakow guide at Krakow City Tours!