We started today by farewelling the Sister Servants who wonderfully accommodated and fed us for our overnight stay.
We then went back to the Jasna Gora Shrine to meet for our official guided tour. While we waited we had our morning prayer in the courtyard. Singing our closing hymn – Amazing Grace – we became aware of the crowds watching us and a nun came out of the Information Centre to join us. Apparently it is not common for anyone other than Poles to pilgrimage to the site, at least in groups, so it was a special sight to see a group of young foreigners praying there.
Our official guided tour of the Jasna Gora Shrine covered the history of the Madonna, how it got its scar and how they dress it with special layers that sit over the top of the picture, howthe sight has been attacked and grown over the years. Our group joined the locals in reverancing the icon by walking around it on our knees. We were shown other aspects and art of the shrine. Being Sunday and holidays and summer, crowds were quite large. The very deep devotion the Poles have to their faith and in particular to the Black Madonna here has really moved most the group.
We then did the 3 hour drive to Kalwaria. Along the way our guide told us she was so pleased we had chosen this trip. We were one of the few groups to do their full trip in Poland and because we were here earlier we are able to still access the full guided tours at a number of sites before they stop due to the massive influx of people in the next couple of weeks.
Kalwaria Zebrzydovska is our stop for the next few nights. A Calvary or Way of the Cross set in the mountains. Another pilgrimage site in Poland. A beautiful spot which we will find more out about tomorrow. Tonight we stay in the pilgrim house located on the sight – run by monks.
We shared our Sunday Mass together in another beautiful chapel next to the Basilica, celebrated by Fr Leo Burke who is traveling with us.