Treasures of the Church- Holy Sites

kalwaria zebrzydowska


Kalwaria Zebrzydowska is a Benedictine Monastery located several miles away from Wadowice. It became one of the places which marked the spiritual life of Venerable John Paul II. Before he was even born, his grandfather, as well as his great-grandfather, worked in this beautiful place as guides for pilgrims. The monastery has a way which reminds us of the Via Dolorosa, the way of Christ to Calvary. The Stations of the Cross in Kalwaria extend for more than five miles.

Pope John Paul II was taken to this monastery by his father, right after his mother died. After he was ordained a priest, he would be the one who would bring his students to this place where they would pray, converse, meditate, and keep silence. While he was an Archbishop, he would spent time alone in this sanctuary. When Pope Paul VI appointed him Cardinal, Wojtyla decided to go to Kalwaria before leaving for Rome. In the book where pilgrims write their intentions, he wrote the following message: “I have come to Our Lady of Kalwaria, to whom I have felt very close, ever since I was very small, with the sole purpose of placing everything in her hands”. On June 7, 1979, he came back to this place, this time as His Holiness Pope John Paul II.

During his Apostolic Visit to Poland, on August 19th, 2002, the Pope visited this Marian Shrine, celebrating on that day the IV centenary of the sanctuary. On this occasion, His Holiness stated truly moving words, declaring that this place expresses brilliantly the mysterious bond of love. This bond that he was referring to is none other than the union of the Two Hearts.

The story states that at the beginning of the XVII century, Mikolaj Zebrzydowski, founder of the sanctuary, laid the foundations to build the chapel of Golgotha, according to the model of the Church of the Crucifixion in Jerusalem. In this manner, he wished above all to bring the Mystery of the Passion and Death of Christ closer to himself and to others. Later on, however, the construction of the streets was designed according to the streets of the Passion of Our Lord, from the cenacle to the sepulcher of Christ. Motivated by his Marian devotion and the inspiration from God, he wanted to put in the plan some chapels that would evoke the events of the life of Mary. This is how other paths and a new religious practice emerged, nonetheless as a complement of the Way of the Cross. The devotion is called the Way of the Compassion of the Mother of God and of all the women who suffered together with her. For four centuries, generations of pilgrims trace the footprints of our Redeemer and His Mother, experiencing the abundant love that withstood sufferings and death and culminated in the Glory of Heaven.

During this visit, the Pope composed the following beautiful prayer to the Queen of Heaven:
“Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus”.

“Turn, Lady of all graces, your gaze and look upon these people which for centuries have remained faithful to you and to your Son. Look upon this nation, which has always placed its hope in your maternal love. Turn the gaze of your eyes of mercy towards us, and obtain what your children most need. Open the hearts of the prosperous to the needs of the poor and the suffering. Enable the unemployed to find an employer. Help those who are poverty-stricken to find a home. Grant families the love which makes it possible to surmount all difficulties. Show young people the way and a horizon for the future. Cover children with the mantle of your protection, lest they be scandalized. Confirm religious communities with the grace of faith, hope and love. Grant that priests may follow in the footsteps of your Son, by offering their lives each day for the sheep. Obtain for Bishops the light of the Holy Spirit, so that they may guide the Church to the gates of your Son’s Kingdom by a single, straight path”.

“Most Holy Mother, our Lady of Calvary, obtain also for me strength in body and spirit, that I may carry out to the end the mission given me by the Risen Lord. To you, I give back all the fruits of my life and my ministries. To you, I entrust the future of the Church; to you I offer my nation; in you do I trust and once more I declare: Totus Tuus, Maria! Totus Tuus! Amen”.



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