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Have you heard about Pope’s Trail in Poland? Posted by on Sep 9, 2019 in Countries, Culture, Famous people, Outdoors, Places to visit, Religion

Pope John Paul II, born Karol Wojtyła, was officially declared a saint by the Vatican on April 27th 2014.

After over twenty-five years as pope, including two assassination attempts, several cancer scares, hearing loss and public diagnosis of osteoarthrosis and Parkinson’s disease, John Paul II passed away on April 2nd, 2005, plunging Poland into national mourning. Wawel Cathedral’s Zygmunt’s Bell sounded for the first time in a quarter of a century and bars and clubs across the country closed their doors as a mark of respect. Tributes from world leaders poured in, flags up and down the country were draped with black ribbons, and Vatican officials immediately began referring to the late pope as John Paul “the Great”. His papacy was the second-longest in history and left a lasting legacy, not least in his work to combat world poverty, his fierce criticism of armed conflict and his commitment to bringing the Church back to the masses.

Before he was elected to the papacy, Karol Wojtyła spent 58 years living in and around Kraków. The region is literally riddled with tourist trails tracing his footsteps. We all know that he loved mountains and hiking was one of his favorite ways to spend time outside. He was not only a pastor and great theologian, but also an athlete who loved the great outdoors!

Image by Bogdan Konikowski from Pixabay

“I will ski again when they let me” ,said Saint John Paul II, just moments after his papal inauguration in 1978. With a lifelong love for exploring the mountains by foot or skis, Karol Wojtyla, now Saint John Paul II, often shared his passion for encountering God in nature. As a young priest in Poland, he was known to take his youth group on many hiking excursions and retreats. Combining catechesis with adventure and athleticism, he understood how the beauty of creation reveals the wonder of its Creator, instilling awe in its observers.

In the Tatras Mountains, his favorite peak was Kasprowy Wierch. The Hala Gąsienicowa valley was his favorite ski run because of its jagged terrain and winding paths. His daring skiing earned him the nickname “Daredevil of the Tatras” among those who skied with him.

In 2003 PTTK Central Mountaineering Center marked out and labelled Lesser Poland Pope’s Trail of John Paul II, leading from Kalwaria Zebrzydowska to Stary Sącz (231 km). The Trail has got side routes called options of Lesser Poland Pope’s Trail (Szlak Papieski). A maximum distance of the trail, including the options, is approximately 620 km.

The Lesser Poland Pope’s Trail is a theme one. It uses the already existing network of PTTK trails. It shows places which Karol Wojtyła visited and travelled to. Lesser Poland Pope’s Trail of Saint John Paul II covers of course Wadowice with the Basilica of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Family House of John Paul II, Stary Sącz with the Sanctuary of Saint Kinga and the papal altar, Passion and Marian Sanctuary in Kalwaria Zebrzdowska, Sancuary of Mary the Queen of Podhale in Ludźmierz and many other monuments of culture and art. The Trail leads through Orawa Ethnographic Park, Władysław Orkan Museum in Rabka-Zdrój, PTTK Mountaineering Culture Centres and tourist chapels.

Image courtesy my friend, Asia Wiak

Image courtesy my friend, Asia Wiak

All these places create cultural heritage of the region, which was reminded about many times by the pope Saint John Paul II.

Pilgrimages to Poland often center on the life of Saint Pope John Paul II, with visits to the historical and spiritual sites where he lived and worshipped from Wadowice to Kraków. Touring through Zakopane, scaling the Tatras Mountains, or climbing up Groń Jana Pawła II are the best ways to experience this saint’s spirituality through nature.

Also, check out this post from last year:

40 years since John Paul II became Pope!

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About the Author: Kasia

My name is Kasia Scontsas. I grew near Lublin, Poland and moved to Warsaw to study International Business. I have passion for languages: any languages! Currently I live in New Hampshire. I enjoy skiing, kayaking, biking and paddle boarding. My husband speaks a little Polish, but our daughters are fluent in it! I wanted to make sure that they can communicate with their Polish relatives in our native language. Teaching them Polish since they were born was the best thing I could have given them! I have been writing about learning Polish language and culture for Transparent Language’s Polish Blog since 2010.


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