Thursday, May 3, 2012

Mary, Queen of Poland

This week is a holiday week in Poland. Our arrival corresponded with the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. In communist days this celebration was supplanted by the Marxist version of Labor Day. These days, the celebration of the working man remains but it has reacquired its religious significance. Today marks Polish Constitution Day, commemorating the promulgation of the Polish Constitution, which, as Fr. Marcin reminded us repeatedly, occurred prior to the full ratification of the American Constitution, even though ours had been written first. On this day the Polish also commemorate the day some 300 years ago when one king or another dedicated the nation to Blessed Mary as their queen. It is a civil holiday, but many choose to celebrate by attending Mass. We were among this group today who celebrated with the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow.

I had met the Cardinal once previously when he introduced me to Pope John Paul II in a visit to Rome with classmates, so I was quite put out that he failed to remember who I was. Aside from this, however, it was an extraordinary celebration attended by the military who made quite a scene when they marched into the Cathedral. It was also attended by the royal family who were attired in furs and pheasant feathers and some fellow who wore a full suit of armor. As I was vested and at the altar I was unable to take photos of them.

Following Mass when climbed a steep narrow set of steps to view the largest bell in continental Europe. The only larger bell is Big Ben. In the end it was worth the climb, but the daunting thought of ascending a bell tower was attractive to only one member of our party. I will give you a hint: he was not an American. From the tower we descended into the crypt to see the sarcophagi of long dead kings. The highlight of this expedition was viewing the Altar of St. Leonard at which John Paul II celebrated his first Mass after ordination as a priest. Climbing one more set or stairs, we emerged into the main body of the Cathedral and surreptitiously took photos of the tomb of St. Wenceslaus.

Lunch, and a nap consumed the afternoon and in the evening we visited the Divine Mercy Sanctuary. The architecture of the building in modern, as is the decor. It remains, nevertheless, beautiful and inspiring. We were led on a tour by the rector of the facility before finally pausing to pray at the tomb of St. Faustina and the Divine Mercy image.

We have returned to the hotel after a lovely evening to rest before doing some shopping tomorrow. We travel to the hometown of JPII tomorrow evening and to Fr. Marcin's hometown the day after for more Polish adventures.


  1. Awesome... Thanks for the pics.. Looks like ur havin a great time.. ;)
    Luv Ya!!

  2. Such holy places. That's on thing we miss here in North America- the sense of history and the passage of centuries that you find over there.


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