We have written many times about the Royal Route – one of the most popular trails in Krakow. The name of this particular route is associated with the fact, that according to historical records and chronicles, every Polish king who came into the city solemnly, had to walk from Kleparz, through Floriańska St., Main Market Square, and Grodzka St. to reach Wawel Hill finally. Today we are going to tell something about places connected with John Paul II, that you can see along this route (including famous Pope’s window at Franciszkańska Street).
Karol Wojtyła – a brief biography
Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) was born on 18 May 1920 in Wadowice. His family lived modestly and was financed by father’s salary from military official. Karol’s mother worked as a seamstress, but most of all she was a housewife watching over her children. In elementary school, young Karol was considered as a very pious person with writing and acting abilities. Death of his mother and his older brother Edmund few years later interrupted Karol’s carefree and happy childhood. After graduating from high school in 1938, future Pope moved to Kraków and began his studies on the Faculty of Polish Philology at Jagiellonian University. After the outbreak of war and death of his beloved father, Wojtyla entered the clandestine seminary and began studying theology. On November 1, 1946, Archbishop Adam Sapieha ordained him as a priest. Then he stayed at the parish houses in Niegowić and St. Florian’s church in Krakow. When Karol Wojtyła became a bishop he was accommodated in Curia Palace, and after his election in 1978 he moved to Apostolic Palace in Vatican.
Walking through the Royal Route
We start our route from St. Florian Basilica in Kleparz, which was the second most important place of young Karol Wojtyła’s pastoral ministry. Working here, he initiated the university ministry, where mainly students of Krakow University of Technology attended. In nearby parish house where Wojtyła lived, he wrote a drama “Brother of Our God” (about the life of St. Albert – Adam Chmielowski). In one of church chapels there is a Papal kneeler with his coat of arms, rosary and skullcap – gifts of the Holy Father to the St. Florian parish church. What is more, the chasuble in which he celebrated mass on 13 May 1981 is also kept here.
Walking around the Main Market Square, you should enter to St. Mary’s Basilica – a place where Karol Wojtyła was a preacher and confessor between 1952 and 1957. His spot was in the Chapel of Virgin Mary of Vilnius (currently there is a plaque informing us about it). Many important events of Pope’s life happened in St. Mary’s church, eg. holy mass when he beatified Angela Salawa or the White March, organized by Kraków citizens after an assassination on John Paul II in 1981 in intention of his quick recovery. Every first Saturday of the month at. 21.37 (time of Pope’s death) ‘Barka’ a realigious song associated with the Pope is played on a trumpet from the higher tower of the basilica.
Heading towards Wawel Hill, it is worth to get off the track on right and see the Bishop’s Palace and the famous window from which every pilgrimage to Kraków and blessed gathered crowds and talk to people (especially to the youth – now it is a legend!) during every pilgrimage to Krakow. What is more, he spend some time for prayer and contemplation in the magnificent Franciscan Order temple, which is situated just opposite the palace.
Walking through Grodzka Street and Kanonicza Street, you should visit the Dean House, to which Karol Wojtyła moved in 1964 as an auxiliary bishop of Kraków. Today runs here an Archdiocese Museum.
Wawel Cathedral is a place that had a huge influence on young Karol Wojtyła. He was ordained here as priest on 2 November 1946. There is also a Holy Confession of St. Stanislaus, Bishop and Martyr, to whom John Paul II prayed every time he visited the temple. Very important is also Sigismund Bell, which sound reminds of liturgical celebrations and important dates related to Pope’s life and pontificate. Currently Wawel Cathedral is the most important place on the pilgrimage route to Krakow. There is also a monument of John Paul II, unveiled by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz in front of the temple.
Do you want to learn more about Polish Pope’s life? Check out our pilgrimage tour at: https://krakowzwiedzanie.pl/en/the-paths-of-john-paul-ii/
The route goes far beyond Royal Route, leading to Łagiewniki and Lebanon Quarry in Zakrzówek where Karol Wojtyła worked during the World War II.