14 Days – A Pilgrimage through Eastern Europe

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DAY 1: DEPART USA

We depart Los Angeles en route to Warsaw, with complimentary meals and beverages served aloft.

DAY 2: ARRIVE WARSAW

Upon arrival in Warsaw we are met by our Catholic Travel Centre tour escort who will accompany us throughout our journey. We enjoy a panoramic tour of Warsaw including the Monument of the Warsaw Uprising and the Ghetto Memorial. We then transfer to our hotel for dinner and the evening. Mass will be celebrated at a local church. (D)

DAY 3: WARSAW / LODZ / CZESTOCHOWA

This morning we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Warsaw, the capital of Poland, including the Old Town with Zamkowy Square and its King Sigismund’s Column, the first non-ecclesiastic statue, and the Royal Castle originally a Gothic castle dating to the 15th century. It was here that the Third of May Constitution was promulgated in 1791. The Market Square has many restaurants, galleries and gift shops. Next we visit Lodz, Poland’s second-largest city where St. Faustina worked as a youth. Lodz lies in the center of the country and at the beginning of WWII, it held the second largest Jewish community in Europe. The Lodz Ghetto, the largest Ghetto completely closed off from the rest of the city, held 250,000 Jews. Only 877 of these remained when it was liberated in January of 1945.

This afternoon we visit Czestochowa, a city which has been for the last 600 years the principal centre of Catholic religion in Poland and is a shrine for pilgrims. We visit the Treasury and Jasna Gora Monastery which has religious, historic and artistic value. Our guide is a local Pauline priest. The oldest building is the Gothic Chapel of Our Lady in which hangs the famous Black Madonna icon on a magnificent silver- and-ebony altar. We celebrate Mass at the Shrine. Dinner and the evening are in Czestochowa. (B, D)

DAY 4: CZESTOCHOWA / AUSCHWITZ / KALWARIA /KRAKOW

Early this morning we may wish to view the unveiling of the Black Madonna, returning to the hotel for breakfast. We make our way to Auschwitz, the Nazi Concentration Camp. We will view an audio visual presentation and tour the grounds, with a special prayer at the cell of the martyred St. Maximilian Kolbe, who voluntarily surrendered his life so that another prisoner might live. We drive by Birkenau, site of the martyrdom of St. Edith Stein.

We then continue to a place that was a popular pilgrimage place for Pope John Paul II when he was a young man: Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, where in the beginning of the 17th century the Palatine of Krakow founded a Franciscan monastery. The church has very rich Baroque decorations. On the slope of the hill and in the valley is an architectural ‘Way of the Cross’ comprising 42 Mannerist and Baroque chapels and some small Calvary churches. We celebrate Mass at the Shrine. We arrive in Krakow for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 5: KRAKOW: VISIT OF THE CITY & ST. FAUSTINA SITES

This morning we begin our tour of Krakow starting with a visit to the Gothic Royal Castle and Cathedral remodeled in the beginning of the 16th century according to the new Renaissance taste. After the capital was moved to Warsaw in 1596, the importance of the town declined but Polish Kings were still crowned and buried here. Later we drive to the Old Town area including a visit to St. Mary’s Church, famous for its wooden altar by Wit Stwosz, plus we see the ancient Market Square and Cloth Hall built before 1349, then altered in the 16th century. Inside the Hall are many shopping stalls.

This afternoon we visit the Convent of Sisters of Mercy in Lagiewniki, where Saint Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy, lived and died. Here we celebrate Mass. In the heart of the sanctuary of the Saint, the convent’s chapel, remains the Lord’s Mercy Icon. It depicts Christ as He appeared before this visionary Polish nun one February evening in 1931. The Lord instructed her to commission this very likeness of Himself, complete with the caption which reads in Polish: Jesus, I trust Thee. What is more, in the series of appearances over the ensuing years He also revealed to St. Faustina His dogma of Divine Mercy. We return to our hotel for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 6: KRAKOW / WADOWICE / PRAGUE

This morning we depart Krakow for Wadowice, the birthplace of Karol Wojtla, the late Pope John Paul II. His museum is in his family house. Here we join the local community in celebrating Mass at the parish church. After Mass we depart Wadowice for Prague, arriving in time for dinner. (B, D)

DAY 7: PRAGUE: VISIT OF THE CITY

This morning our visit includes the Castle Square and St. Vitus Cathedral. Nearby is the Church of St. Nicholas, one of the city’s finest. We then walk along the Mala Strana (Little Quarter) and celebrate Mass at the Church of Our Lady Victorious, where we will view the famous statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague. We cross over the famous Charles Bridge, lined on both sides by religious statues, which leads us out of the Little Quarter into the Old Town. This neighborhood also includes the Renaissance Town Hall with its animated astronomical clock and the Our Lady Before Tyn church founded in 1385. We return to our hotel for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 8: PRAGUE / MELK ABBEY / VIENNA

This morning we celebrate Mass at “The Loreto”, an important place of pilgrimage since 1626. The heart of this complex is a copy of a house believed to be the Virgin Mary’s house that was miraculously transported from Nazareth to Loreto, Italy in 1278. After Mass we depart Prague for Vienna, stopping first at Melk, situated at the river Danube and starting point of the Wachau, the famous Danube Valley. We visit Melk Abbey, one of the most imposing Baroque architectural masterpieces north of the Alps and a focal point in the formative years of Austria’s history. We continue on to Vienna for dinner and the evening. (B, D)

DAY 9: VIENNA: VISIT OF THE CITY

After breakfast, we begin our day with a sightseeing tour of the Imperial city of Vienna. Through the tour we will gain an overall impression of the most significant historical sights of Vienna. Our local guide will show us the Ringstrasse with its magnificent buildings, such as the State Opera House, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Natural History, the City Hall, the Hofburg and the Parliament. We visit the landmark St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the heart of Vienna, where we celebrate Mass. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure for a stroll around this magnificent city. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)

DAY 10: VIENNA / ZAGREB

This morning we depart Vienna for Zagreb stopping first at the shrine of the Mother of God of Bistrica in the small town of Marija Bistrica, Croatia. The shrine has been officially proclaimed as the national shrine of Mary, and is the largest Croatian parish site of religious celebration. The spacious, unfinished “open-air church”, the unfinished “wall of trust and hope” and Calvary – unique Stations of the Cross, are original artistic works by Croatian sculptors from the second half of the twentieth century. Veneration of Mary began in the fifteenth century when the black figure of Our Lady became famous for its miraculous powers. Since then the act of veneration strongly developed. The shrine has been constantly modernized and its ongoing, present-day improvement is a direct result of the visit made by Pope John Paul II on October 3rd 1998. Here we celebrate Mass. We continue on to Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, for dinner and the evening and here we say goodbye to our Polish guide. (B, D)

DAY 11: ZAGREB / PLITVICE / MEDJUGORJE

Today we meet our bus driver and guide from Medjugorje, a small village in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Before reaching Medjugorje, we enjoy the beautiful National Park in Plitvice. The waters flowing over the limestone and chalk have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams which in turn have created a series of beautiful lakes, caves and waterfalls. These geological processes continue today. The forests in the park are home to bears, wolves and many rare bird species.

We arrive in Medjugorje where we are hosted by local families in guesthouses for the next two days. (B, D)

DAY 12: MEDJUGORJE: VISIT OF THE SHRINE

Our Lady has appeared in Medjugorje every day since June 24, 1981. The Blessed Mother reportedly tells us that God has sent her to our world and, these years she is spending with us are a time of Grace granted by God. In her own words she tells us, “I have come to tell the world that God exists. He is the fullness of life, and to enjoy this fullness and peace, you must return to God.”
Our Lady continues to give messages to six young people, now adults: Ivan, Jakov, Marija, Mirjana, Vicka, and Ivanka. Beginning on March 1, 1984, Our Lady began giving Weekly Messages to St. James parish in Medjugorje and to the world. Then, on January 25, 1987, Our Lady began giving these Messages on the 25th of each Month. After 21 years, Our Lady still appears to 3 of the visionaries daily (Marija, Vicka, and Ivan). The 25th of the month message is always given by Our Lady to the visionary Marija.

This morning, after breakfast, we’ll attend the Holy Mass in English at 10 a.m. Later, we make the climb to MT. PODBRDO (Hill of the Apparitions), where Our Lady first appeared. Our guide will introduce us to the visionaries to talk and pray with. The balance of the afternoon is free for our private meditations. In the evening we’ll take part in the evening Rosary with pilgrims from all over the world. Dinner is at our guesthouse. (B, D)

DAY 13: MEDJUGORJE: VISIT OF THE SHRINE

This morning we make the climb to MT. KRIZEVAC (Cross Mountain). The balance of the afternoon is free for our private meditations. In the evening we’ll take part in the evening Rosary with pilgrims from all over the world. Dinner is at our guesthouse. (B, D)

DAY 14: RETURN USA

This morning we transfer to the Sarajevo airport for our return flight en route to the USA. (B)

NOTE: While no changes are anticipated, there might be occasions when certain alterations become necessary to this itinerary due to changes in airline schedules or for other reasons. All Masses are subject to final church schedules.