Pilgrimage sites in Krakow
At least since the 11th century Krakow has attracted pilgrims keen on visiting its famous churches, places in the city where saintly men and women lived and shrines known for miracles. Usually, it has been some hugely popular Christian sanctuary situated in Krakow that has proved the most powerful magnet for the faithful: the shrine of Skalka in the past, the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy these days, possibly the John Paul II Center in the future.
- Sanctuary of Divine Mercy (Sanktuarium Bozego Milosierdzia) The Sanctuary of Divine Mercy is situated in the Lagiewniki district of Krakow, where St. Faustina Kowalska stayed in the convent of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy from 1936 till her death. The humble nun has originated the Divine Mercy devotion when she revealed the details of her visions of Jesus Christ as the Savior repeatedly appeared before her and talked to her.
- Saint John Paul II Center (Centrum Świętego Jana Pawła II) The sanctuary of Sain John Paul II is situated in the Lagiewniki neighborhood of Krakow, some four kilometers south of the Old town historical center. It’s accessible on foot from the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy after a five minutes walk. The actual shrine of Saint John Paul II is the octagonal Church of the Relics (Kosciol Relikwi) also referred to as the lower church because it takes up the central area of the basement story of the complex’s main edifice which contains also the Church of Saint John Paul II upstairs – the upper church.
- The Shrine of Skalka (Sanktuarium na Skalce) Skalka is situated a twenty to twenty five minutes’ walk southward from the Rynek Glowny central square of Krakow, beautifully situated on the Wisla river bank near the Wawel Royal Castle. It’s Poland’s oldest shrine with unique significance for the Polish history and the nation’s spirituality. The Skalka Sanctuary is revered as the location of Saint Stanislaus’s martyrdom in 1079 and the center of the veneration of the Polish most important martyr and one of the patron saints of Poland. The present Skalka church, dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel and Saint Stanislaus the Bishop, dates from the mid-18th century, being the fourth temple built on the site. Visitors can still see three dark spots believed to be St. Stanislaus"s blood on the wall next to the martyr’s altar which itself exhibits a timeworn lump of wood said to be a piece of the 11th-century altar step onto which the martyr"s blood spilled in 1079.
- Sanctuary of the Holy Cross (Sanktuarium Krzyza Swietego) The church of the ancient Cistercian Abbey in the Mogila area of Krakow is the home of the Sanctuary of the Holy Cross which enshrines two pieces of the True Cross that Saint Helena discovered in 328. One has been held in the Mogila Abbey from time immemorial though unfortunately no document certified its genuineness beyond doubt. So in 1961 Krakow’s Sanctuary of the Holy Cross has obtained an authenticated fragment of the True Cross from the Santa Croce basilica in Rome.
- Wawel Cathedral (Katedra Wawelska) The Krakow Cathedral on the Wawel Hill is not only the hallowed mother church of the Krakow archdiocese but also a cluster of shrines. First and foremost, it boasts the sanctuary of SaintStanislaus the Bishop and Martyr in the form of a mausoleum holding his relics in the centre of the nave. Also, there is an altar-shrine of Saint Jadwiga of Poland in the eastern arm of the ambulatory of the Wawel Cathedral. And The Chapel of Our Lady, with entrance in the middle of ambulatory, is the place of the daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament although the faithful can see the venerated image of the Gracious Mother of God only on special occasions and otherwise this historic icon remains deposited in the building of the cathedral treasury.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Sorrows (Sanktuarium Matki Boskiej Bolesnej) A chapel of the centrally located massive medieval church of Krakow’s oldest Franciscan monastery enshrines the miraculous image of the Virgin Mary of circa 1440 known as Our Lady of Sorrows. People in distress have flocked to her sanctuary for centuries. In 1908 the picture of Our Lady of Sorrows, often also called the Doleful Benefactress of Krakow, has been decorated with a papal crown. The church of Saint Francis at Franciszkanska street contains also the shrines of Blessed Salomea of Poland, Blessed Aniela Salawa, and Blessed Jakub Strzemie.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary (Sanktuarium Matki Boskiej Rozancowej) The Dominican church of the Holy Trinity in Krakow at Stolarska street, a block from the Old Town"s Rynek Glowny central square, has been known for its shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary since 1668. The Gothic basilica, which dates from the end of the 14th century, also enshrines the sanctuary of Saint Jacek Odrowaz who is venerated beyond Poland as Saint Hyacinth O.P. The painting venerated in the Chapel of Our Lady of the Rosary of the Basilica of the Holy Trinity has been brought to Krakow from Rome and is a copy of the famous image of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus, worshipped in Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. The picture of Our Lady of the Rosary in Krakow’s Basilica of the Holy Trinity has been decorated with papal crowns in 1921.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Piasek (Sanktuarium Matki Bozej Piaskowej) The fresco known as Our Lady of Piasek dates from circa 1500 and tradition attributes its origins to a supernatural intervention. Once adorning the outside wall of the Basilica of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Karmelicka street, now it"s enshrined in its own chapel. From the outset the image the Madonna of Piasek has become renowned for mercies obtained through the intercession of Our Lady. Among others, Poland’s king Jan III Sobieski maintained that his victory over the Ottoman Empire in the Battle of Vienna was attained through the prayers in Krakow’s Sanctuary of Our Lady of Piasek. The image of Our Lady of Piasek has been canonically crowned with papal crowns in 1883.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Loreto (Sanktuarium Matki Boskiej z Loreto) Krakow’s Sanctuary of Our Lady of Loreto is situated in a side chapel of the Capuchin church at 11 Loretanska street, a short walk westward from the Rynek Glowny central square. The chapel of 1719 is a copy of the famous Santa Casa di Loreto, worshipped as the family house of the Blessed Virgin Mary which has been transferred from the Holy Land to Italy in the 13th century.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Redemption of Slaves (Sanktuarium Matki Bozej od Wykupu Niewolnikow) The miraculous picture of Our Lady of the Redemption of Slaves, also known as the image of Our Lady of Freedom, is enshrined in the high altar of the Church of SS. John the Baptist and John the Evangelist at sw. Jana street, one block north from Krakow"s Rynek Glowny central square. According to tradition, the veneration of the 16th-century image began in 1633 and since thenOur Lady of the Redemption of Slaves has been considered the protectress of prisoners and hostages, and now generally in the case of any enslavement: kidnapping as well as addictions or alcoholism. In 1965 Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, crowned the picture of Our Lady of the Redemption of Slaves with papal crowns.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Consolation (Sanktuarium Matki Bozej Pocieszenia) The shrine of Our Lady of Consolation takes up a portion of the medieval cloister of the Augustinian friars adjacent to the gothic Church of Saint Catherine in the Kazimierz historic district of Krakow, at Augustianska street and Skaleczna street, close to the Skalka Sanctuary. Early in the 16th century a large mural of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Consolation was painted on its wall. In 2000 the Krakow image of the Mother of Consolation has been canonically crowned with papal crowns previously blessed in Vatican by Pope John Paul II.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Sanktuarium Matki Bozej Nieustajacej Pomocy) The Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Help is situated some three kilometers south of the Rynek Glowny central square. Its high altar enshrines a copy of the miraculous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, also known as Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, the 15th-century Byzantine icon worshipped in Rome’s church of San’Alfonso di Liguori. Since 1952 the continuous Novena to Our Lady of Perpetual Help has taken place in the Krakow sanctuary at Zamoyskiego street.
- Sanctuary of Saint Joseph (Sanktuarium Swietego Jozefa) A side altar in the church of Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary at 18 Rakowicka street enshrines the 17th-century large picture of Saint Joseph which became famous for graces attained through the intercessions of the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The veneration of the painting started practically immediately on its arrival to Krakow in 1669. The relics of Saint Raphael Kalinowski are to be found in the vestibule of the church, on the right-hand side of the entrrance. The relics of Saint Albert Chmielowski were buried here from 1948 to 1983.
- The Ecce Homo Sanctuary (Sanktuarium Ecce Homo) The Ecce Homo Sanctuary at 10 Woronicza street is the center of the veneration of Saint Albert Chmielowski. The high altar of a little modern church enshrines the reliquary with the saint"s relics while the relics of Blessed Sister Bernardina are placed next to it. The shrine owes its name to the title of the picture painted by Saint Albert Chmielowski prior to 1904 when he still was Adam Chmielowski, an artist. The painting, now displayed at the high altar of the Ecce Homo Sanctuary, depicts tortured Jesus Christ crowned with thorns, clothed in scarlet robe and holding a staff.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima (Sanktuarium Matki Bozej Fatimskiej) The sanctuary is situated in a rather unusual modern church of 1977 in the Bienczyce area of the Nowa Huta district. The church, dedicated to the Mother of God, Queen of Poland, is popularly called “Arka Pana”: the Lord’s Ark. This church has always symbolized the struggle of Catholics against the godless communist regime in the second half of the 20th century. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima has a form of a chapel imitating a grotto under the church"s high altar It enshrines the venerated statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is a copy of the famous statue of Our Lady of Fatima, donated by Portuguese Catholics. In 1992 Pope John Paul II granted a Canonical Coronation to the image of Our Lady of Fatima in the Lord’s Arc in Krakow.
- Sanctuary of Our Lady of Plaszow (Sanktuarium Matki Bozej Nieustajacej Pomocy) Since 1931 the parish church of the Holiest Heart of the Lord Jesus in the Plaszow right-bank industrial district of Krakow has enshrined the venerated image of Madonna that dates back to the second half of the 15th century. The picture symbolizes the patronage of the Virgin Mary over marriages, maternity, and family life. Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope John Paul II, has designated the Plaszow church as a focal point for the veneration of Our Lady, the patroness of families.