We depart to Warsaw, Poland,
We arrive in Warsaw and are met by our Catholic Travel Centre representative and transfer to our hotel for check-in. Later this afternoon we board our motor coach and transfer to the Church of the Holy Cross where Chopin's heart is kept in an Urn. Here we celebrate the opening Mass of our pilgrimage. After Mass, we make our way to our hotel for dinner and the evening. (D)
We begin our day with a drive along the Royal route, stopping at Lazienki Gardens, where we see the Chopin Monument, as well as enchanting gardens, and the Palace on the Water. We continue on to the Old City where we see the Market Square, with its many restaurants, galleries and gift shops. We visit the Royal Palace, originally a Gothic castle dating back to the 15th century. In the New Town we view from outside the house where Marie Curie was born. We also visit
St Kostka church, where martyred Solidarity priest Fr. Popieluszko worked and is buried. This afternoon we drive to the village of Niepokalanow, home to the Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a Franciscan monastery founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, at present one of the most important places of pilgrimage in Poland. Here we celebrate Mass. After a visit of the village we return to Warsaw for the evening. Dinner is at a local restaurant. (B, D)
After breakfast we depart Warsaw for Czestochowa. Czestochowa is 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 Jasna Gora Monastery which has religious, historic and artistic value. Our guide is a local Pauline monk or sister. 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, then tour the Treasury.
After some time at leisure in Czestochowa, we continue to Krakow via Oswiecim, the Nazi Concentration Camp of Auschwitz where we visit the cell of the martyred St. Maximilian Kolbe. We arrive in Krakow for the evening, and dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)
We begin today with Mass at "St. Stanislaw on the Rock ", Poland's second most important pilgrimage site. St. Stanislaw, who dared to chasten the extravagent King Boleslaw, is said to have been beheaded at the site in 1079. He became the patron saint of Krakow. After their coronation, all new kings came to this site to carry out a solemn ritual of penitence and expiation. After Mass, 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 style. 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, where we see the ancient Market Square and Cloth Hall built before 1349, and later altered in the 16th century. Inside the Hall are many shopping stalls. Later we visit St. Mary's Church, where we see the wooden altar by Wit Stwosz. We have some free time for lunch on our own. This afternoon we drive to Wieliczka to see the oldest salt mine in Europe, a world-class tourist attraction. It is a unique place where many generations of Polish miners have created an underground world of underground salt lakes with a rich interior of decorated chapels including the famous Blessed Kings Chapel, plus other galleries and workings made of salt. Wieliczka salt mine is listed by UNESCO as an object of World Cultural Heritage. Tonight, we enjoy dinner and a folklore show at a local restaurant. (B, D)
We begin with morning Mass and a visit to the Convent of Sisters of Mercy in Lagiewniki, where Saint Faustina, the Apostle of Divine Mercy, lived and died. Later we visit Wadowice, the birthplace of Karol Wojtla, who would later become Pope John Paul II. A museum is in his family house.
We then continue to a place that was a popular pilgrimage site for the Pope 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. The balance of the afternoon is at leisure in Krakow. Dinner is at our hotel. (B, D)
Today we depart KRAKOW for Hungary and travel to her spirited capital, Buda and Pest, the "Paris of the East". The Danube River runs right down the middle of this capital city with the Buda side to the West and the Pest side to the East of the river. After some time to rest we enjoy a dinner cruise on the "Blue Danube". (B, D)
This morning our visit to the twin cities of Buda and Pest includes views of the Parliament, the Gellért Hill, where we view a fantastic panorama of the city, the Royal Palace and a visit to the 13th century Church of Matthias.
The Castle District in Buda is the ancient kernel of the capital's right-bank settlement. Everything that surrounds it was once only suburbs. From whatever direction you reach the Castle District, you cross the ramparts which completely encircle Castle Hill. The whole area within the ramparts is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and protected as an ancient monument: the lines of the streets and the foundations and architectural remains of the buildings retain the atmosphere and memories of the medieval and eighteenth and nineteenth-century capital.
This afternoon we celebrate Mass at the Basilica of St. Stephan. We end today's tour at the 100-year old Great Central Market, the pantry of Budapest, where we can sample the many delicacies that the Hungarian cuisine offers. Dinner tonight is at our hotel. (B, D)
Today we depart Budapest for Prague stopping first at Sastin Straze for a visit of the Basilica of Our Lady of Sorrows. The shrine dates from 1564 where a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows was placed by the wife of the Lord of Sastin in thanksgiving for help with difficult family problems. Here we celebrate Mass. Our Lady of Sorrows was decreed the patron of Slovakia in 1927 by Pope Pius XI. We continue on to Prague for dinner and the evening.
This morning our visit will begin with a visit to St. Vitus Cathedral; we see as well the Royal Castle. We continue to the Mala Strana (Little Quarter) with Mass at the Church of Our Lady Victorious, where we will view the famous statue of the Infant Jesus of Prague. Nearby is the Church of St. Nicholas, one of the city's finest. The famous Charles Bridge, lined on both sides by religious statues, leads us out of the Little Quarter into the Old Town. This neighborhood includes the Renaissance Town Hall with its animated astronomical clock, and the Our Lady Before Tyn Church founded in 1385. Tonight we enjoy a festive farewell dinner and folklore show at a local restaurant. (B, D)
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)
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)