Dzien Dobry everyone! We’re back for another blog on life in Krakow!
Jumping back a little to March 14th, it was another week of classes! I had Theology of the Body followed by Mass at the Dominican church as usual. Later that night we had another community night with adoration and confession followed by dinner and great conversation with our two chaplains! It’s been such a joy to get to know Fr. Bernardo and Fr. Jonas more and more. We are very blessed as a group by their friendship and guidance.
Tuesday was another day of classes, but we decided to hang around town at a coffee shop after because we heard that some of the Sisters of Life were in town with a group from FOCUS, a college ministry. This was probably the highlight of my day as I got to talk to one of the sisters named Sr. Catherine. She told me how she always had a heart for pro-life ministry and how that drew her to this specific order. I was able to share with her how I also have always had a heart for pro-life ministry and hope to work or volunteer in that field someday, to which she reminded me that even religious orders need accountants! So who knows, maybe I’ll be an accountant for the Sisters of Life in a few years! Afterward, I headed home to get some homework done, and the weather was so nice I decided to sit outside and read. It’s so exciting to feel the spring air here in Poland!
Wednesday I don’t have classes until later in the morning so I was able to have a nice slow morning until heading downtown. Overall it was just a normal day of classes, but I was beginning to get very excited because I would leave for Italy the next morning!
Our flight didn’t leave until 4 pm on Thursday, so we had all morning Thursday to pack and work on homework beforehand. It was also St. Patrick’s Day, so as we made lunch, packed, and checked in online for our flights, there was plenty of Irish music playing!
We left for the airport around 2 pm and had a smooth flight right into Rome. We stayed with some Brigantine sisters right in the heart of Rome, and when we arrived they served us dinner. The best part about Italy is that the food keeps coming, so you never leave a meal hungry. After lots of pasta and cake, we joined the sisters in their chapel for adoration and night prayer. It was great to hear their prayers in yet another language. We’d been in the chapel with the sisters in Czetochwa when they prayed in Polish, and now we go to hear the same prayers in Italian! The chapel was also absolutely gorgeous. It was exciting to remember that we were in Rome by looking at the different decisions of the chapel compared to Poland!
After prayer, Analise, Grazyna, and I headed to an Irish pub a few blocks away! It was fun to experience an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day. We all split a Guinness and a “Shamrock Spritzer” after having a shot of “Baby Guinness” (Bailey’s and Kahlua). After an hour and a half or so, we headed back to bed because we knew there was a long day of walking the next morning!
Early Friday morning we headed to the Vatican because we had the Polish chapel in the crypt of St. Peter’s booked for a private Mass for our group at 7:15 am. It was a beautiful Mass, followed by time to roam around the Basilica. It was mostly empty for a while because it was still closed to other visitors so that all those who were there for private Mass could have a quiet environment. St. John Paul II is buried in there as well, and I went and knelt in front of his grave for a half hour or so and had my prayer time. This was probably one of the highlights of my trip in full honesty. Knowing that the man whose life inspired me to choose Poland for my study abroad destination was buried right in front of me was very powerful. I’ve loved getting to know JP2, and getting to spend time with him at St. Peter’s will always be a cherished moment to me.
We visited three more churches after leaving the Vatican. We saw the Italian Church of Divine Mercy, the Church of St. Philip Neri, and the Church of St. Andrew’s. All of these places were so beautiful, and I had special connections with the different saints they honored. Walking through Rome and realizing how many saints died here, many by martyrdom at the beginning of Church history was very inspiring. I want to be just as bold if I can be in standing up for my faith. After those three churches, we went to the Basilica of St. John Lateran, one of the four major basilicas. We headed to the Holy Stairs afterward, which are the stairs the Christ walked across when Pontious Pilot condemned him. You are allowed to go up them, but only on your knees. It was a very beautiful experience, and it was also the hour of Divine Mercy, 3 pm, so I prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet as I went up. Following the Holy Stairs, we went to the Church of Sante Croce, where different relics from Christ’s Passion are. There are pieces from the True Cross, two of the thorns from the Crown of Thornes, one of the nails Christ was nailed to the Cross with, and a few other relics from the Passion as well. This was another highlight of the trip. I got to sit right in front of the relics and pray and realize that these were the tools that killed Christ, and He chose to take on that death for me. As I sat there looking up at the relics, I realized I was very much in the position of John and Mary in the Gospel. I was literally at the foot of the Cross. Another very cherished memory from this pilgrimage. Afterward, we had dinner and headed to bed after a long day of walking.
Saturday we headed to a few other churches and monuments including Trevi Fountain, one of the most popular parts of Rome. Then we went and walked around the grounds of the Angelicum campus, where JP2 studied as a priest. Afterward, we attended Mass at the Basilica of Mary Major, which is tied with St. Peter’s in my mind for my favorite of the four major basilicas. We were able to have lunch at a restaurant looking up at the basilica afterward, which I absolutely loved. After that, we took a metro to the last of the four major basilicas, St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. St. Paul was a Roman citizen, so they would not kill him within the walls of Rome, therefore the Church was built where he was killed, outside the walls of Rome. It was so peaceful and beautiful out there. I also bought some holy images and a few other souvenirs afterward at the gift shop, because why not! Analise and I went out for appetizers and drinks for “dinner” that night, followed by a walk with everyone to St. Paul’s and gelato after.
I’ll finish this blog up here because there was so much that I experienced in Italy, I think I’ll dedicate a whole other blog to it! Until then, please keep praying for me. Czecz!