Warsaw was so beautiful! We headed off late Friday morning after community Mass in the chapel. It was about a four-hour drive, so there were lots of naps, music, and chit-chat along the way. We arrived at a museum about Cardinal Stefan Wzinski and John Paul II. Cardinal Wyszynski was a father figure to John Paul II, and it was beautiful to walk through the museum and see all the hardship these two men went through. They fought so hard to bring an end to communism, and their story is so inspiring. After the museum, we looked around in the church attached to it, where they had relics of many Polish saints, and then we drove to our Air B&B to sleep for the night.
The next day we went to a museum dedicated to Blessed Jersy. Jersy was a priest in Warsaw who dedicated much of his time to being a chaplain for workers in Poland during the time of communism. One day after Mass, he was kidnapped, beaten, and killed, and his body was dumped in a river. Many people had been touched by his ministry, and he became a hero in Poland. John Paul II came to his grave shortly after his death, and we were also able to visit his grave since it was in the same place as the museum. Afterward, we had Mass and time to tour the rest of the grounds. The museum was built near the parish that Jersy served at. It was also snowing this weekend in Warsaw, so it was beautiful to see this city covered in freshly fallen snow. After lunch, we visited many churches throughout Warsaw. It almost felt like a mini Rome! It was such a hustle-bustle city, but a very half block there was another church! We stopped at Victory Square where we read the homily John Paul II gave there that inspired the Solidarity movement, which later lead to the downfall of communism in Poland. It was such a powerful moment, getting to stand where he had stood, and hear the words he had said that day. After this, we went to the Warsaw Cathedral where Cardinal Wskinski is buried. After learning so much about him this weekend, it was such a blessing to get to pray at his grave. We had dinner afterward and then went to bed for the night.
Sunday we drove out to the city of the Immaculate, Niepokalanow, which is where St. Maximillion lived and where his order was. St. Maximillian was a Catholic priest who lived during the time of World War II. He ministered to many people, including spending some time in Japan, before later returning to Poland. He was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Auschwitz. One day when in the concentration camp, ten people were randomly picked to be taken to a starvation bunker, and one man who was picked begged for mercy, crying out that he had a wife and children. Maximilian stepped forward and asked to take his place, and was taken off to the starvation bunker. He was calm, even as he was sent off to his death. He calmed the other prisoners he was with, praying with them and singing hymns. He was the last one living of the ten, and they ended up choosing to kill him by lethal injection. Years later when he was canonized, the man whose life Maximilian had saved was at the canonization with his family.
We were able to have Mass in the chapel where Maximilian would have had Mass many times and explore the church and other areas near this small chapel. We were even able to go into Maximilian’s cell and see his bed and desk among his other few belongings. Afterward, we took the train home for the night after a weekend full of learning about so many amazing Polish saints.
Most of the week was normal with the usual classes. I’m really excited because this week I booked tickets to fly to France at the end of the month! Stay tuned for all those adventures 🙂 Besides that, it’s been a week full of lots of reading and writing in coffee shops, in between class, Mass, and adoration, and lots of time spent with my friends here. This next week is Holy Week, and I can’t wait to see all the beautiful Masses I’ll get to attend in this inherently Christian city. I already bought my palms today for Palm Sunday, and they are so colorful and beautiful! I can’t wait to tell you all about it next week. Until then, please keep praying for me and know of my prayers for all of you. Czesc!