Pope John Paul II omnipresent in Krakow

Krakow has so many places connected with the man who became John Paul II that it is impossible to see them all in one day.
The locations where Karol Wojtyla lived, worked, contemplated or relaxed are called, appropriately enough, the papal footsteps. Each day tourists from around the world trace them.
Tour guide Malgorzata Polak says Poles are the biggest contingent of visitors. Unsurprisingly, Italians, who remember John Paul?s long tenure as pope, are the next most numerous.
?People from Mexico are the most emotional,? Polak said. ?They adored the pope, and they are touched by each place connected with him. They are always singing in Spanish the words: ?Juan Pablo Segundo te quiere todo el mundo.? It means: John Paul II, all the world loves you.?
One of the most famous of the papal footsteps is the Palace of Krakow Bishops at ul. Franciszkanska 3. That was where many young Poles gathered below the windows of the visiting pope?s room to shout up to him.
John Paul II, whose last trip to Krakow was in 2002, would open the windows and answer back.
In 2002, the pope told the crowd that 23 years had passed since he had begun having exchanges with young people under his windows.
?I am 23 years older,? he said, ?and those who were here the first time under this window at 3 Franciszkanska are also 23 years older.?
?They are also young!? some youths shouted. ?Happy birthday to you!?
Then the pope saw a man in the crowd he knew when he was young. He suggested that both he and the man, Peter, couldn?t stop their own aging, but they had remained young on the inside.
?We have had nothing to do with this. There is only one solution: Jesus Christ! Thank you for coming, and come tomorrow as well.?
Wojtyla lived in the palace in 1944 as a student of the clandestine Krakow Archdiocese Seminary.
The fact that the priests were running a seminary was kept secret from the Nazis. Wojtyla also was a resident from 1964 to 1978 as Bishop of Krakow.
Tour guide Barbara Dudek said she often talks with Bavarian tourists about the ul. Franciszkanska 3 window exchanges and about Poland?s national mourning after the pope?s death on April 2, 2005. It moves them to tears.
A statue of the pope stands in the palace courtyard. The Italian sculptor Ione Sensi Croci completed it in 1980.
When a young women who admired the pope was asked what place in Krakow she most associated with him, she said: ?For me that place is for sure ul. Franciszkanska 3. I was here when the pope chatted with the youths.
?The most emotional moment I remember was during his last pilgrimage in 2002, when he told us goodbye and said he hoped he would be back again. But unfortunately he didn?t return.?
Krakow boasts 11 statues of the pope. They include one in Jordan Park, one in Strzelecki Park, one in Rakowicki Cemetery and one in the Lagiewniki district that Pope Benedict XVI unveiled in 2006.
Wojtyla moved from his hometown of Wadowice to Krakow with his widowed father Karol in 1938, when he was 18 years old, to study Polish literature at Jagiellonian University.
They lived at his Uncle Robert Kaczorowski?s house at ul. Tyniecka 10. Today, a small marker designates its role in papal history.
In 1940 and 1941, during World War II, Wojtyla walked each day to quarries in the Zakrzowek area to plant dynamite charges that broke loose chunks of limestone.
At the intersection of ul. Ruczaj-ul. Pychowicka and ul. Kamieniarska-ul. Wylom in Zakrzowek is a small shrine to him.
The papal footsteps tour includes the Silesian Fathers? Church of St. Stanislaw Kostka in Dębniki. It was there that the priest Karol Wojtyla celebrated his first mass in 1946.
Sadly, no one from his immediate family was alive to cherish it. His father, who outlived his mother Emilia  and Karol?s brother Edmund, died in 1941.
The pope?s parents and brother are buried at Rakowice Cemetery. Flowers and candles pay homage to those who played the most important roles in the great man?s life. 
A plaque on the tower of the Krakow Municipality salutes the pope in this way: ?You gave us faith and hope; you gave us solidarity and freedom; Holy Father, bless each day our beloved city and our homeland.? It was installed on November 21, 2000.
Another stop on the papal footsteps tour is St. Mary?s Church of the Assumption at the Basilica of the Virgin Mary. Wojtyla was a preacher and listened to confessions there between 1952 and 1957.
Another plaque celebrates a tribute to the pope that arose from an event that jolted Catholics around the world.
On May 17, 1981, the pope was in a hospital after an attempt on his life in Rome. Krakow students organized what became known as the White March to honor him.
Almost a half million people, dressed in white, walked in silence from the Blonia Commons to Rynek Glowny, where Cardinal Franciszek Macharski celebrated a mass in front of the basilica. A plaque there commemorates the event.
Another place connected with the pope is the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki. John Paul II consecrated the newly built basilica on August 17, 2002.
In front of the sanctuary is a 4.5-meter-tall statue of the pope that Krakow Polytechnic Professor Witold Ceckiewicz sculpted. The pontiff is releasing a dove with his right hand. His left hand holds a cross.
Two other places in the papal footsteps tour are not in Krakow, but in nearby communities.
Wadowice is ?the city where everything began? ? Wojtyla?s birthplace on May 18, 1920.
The house on ul. Koscielna where the army officer?s son was born has been a museum since 1984.
As museum-goers look at photos of Karol and his family, and documents associated with him, they hear a recording of highlights of his life.
The museum, which attracts 200,000 people a year, also contains old wooden skis Karol used, shoes, caps, torches, mess-tins and bishops? canonicals.
In front of the museum is the Presentation of the Holy Virgin Church, where Karol was baptized and in May of 1929 received his first Communion. Today it contains some of his papal encyclicals and letters.
As pope, he prayed in the church three times. In 1992 he honored it by designating it a minor basilica.
No visit to Wadowice would be complete without eating a papal cream-cake. In 1999 the pope made the dessert famous by mentioning that after he taken his high school graduation examination, he and his friends ate cream-cakes. Today every pastry shop in town sells them.
Niegowice is the other city near Krakow associated with the pope.
It was the first parish where Wojtyła was a vicar.
Not many tourists visit it. They might if they knew that the young priest helped dig the hole for the foundation of the new church.
Wojtyla stayed in Niegowice almost a year after his arrival in 1948.
In the church is a confessional where he heard his parishioners? requests for forgiveness of sins.
John Paul II wrote in his book, ?Gift and Mystery:?  ?I taught religion in five primary schools in the villages? in the Niegowic parish. He got to the schools by carriage or horse-cart, he said.
In front of the church is the only statue in the world of the vicar Karol Wojtyla.
The young priest is giving a blessing with his right hand. In his left is a book with a cross on its cover.
The inscription says the statue honors  the ?Great Peoples? Apostle, the Priest Karol Wojtyla ? the vicar of this parish between 1948 and 1949.?

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