This is one of our sample pilgrimage itineraries. These itineraries require a minimum of 10 passengers.
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|Itinerary at a Glance
Footsteps of Two Popes
|Highlights||Divine Mercy, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Wieliczka Salt Mines, Black Madonnas in Czestochowa and Altoetting, Prague Castle, Infant Jesus of Prague|
Blessed Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI—the first non-Italian popes in over 400 years—were indelibly shaped by their homelands, Poland and Germany. In the Footsteps of Two Holy Fathers aims to give you deeper insight into these two remarkable men and their legacies. Visit their birthplaces and the cities where they spent their formative years, Krakow and Regensburg. Discover the sacred shrines that inspired them, including Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki and Altoetting. Explore the wonders of the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a stirring testament to faith, and Czestochowa, the spiritual capital of Poland. Get a taste of traditional Czech life in the towns of Brno and Pilsen and admire the beauty of Prague and Munich. By the time you reach the end of your journey, you will understand why a billion people around the world have been so deeply moved by these two great popes.
Day 2, Tuesday: Krakow. After going through customs, transfer to your centrally located hotel for check-in. After resting from your flight, explore this charming old city on your own. Meet other members of your group in the evening for a welcome dinner. (D)
Day 3, Wednesday: Krakow. A royal capital for 500 years miraculously left intact by World War II, Krakow is a treasure trove of Gothic and Renaissance art and architecture. It was also home to Pope John Paul II for four decades, from his formative years as a student and young priest through his tenure as bishop and archbishop of the city, until he was elevated to the papacy in 1978. Trace this remarkable man’s journey and growth as you explore Krakow’s history and beauty. A morning sightseeing tour includes the city’s most notable landmarks: St. Mary's Basilica, famous for its wooden altar, the largest Gothic art piece in the world; Wawel Castle and Cathedral; the medieval Old Town; the 14th-century buildings of the Jagiellonian University, where the young Karol Józef Wojtyla studied theology; and Kazimierz, the historical center of Krakow’s Jewish social and religious life. In the afternoon, travel to nearby Lagiewniki to visit the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, the resting place of St. Faustina Kowalska. In 1968 Cardinal Karol Wojtyla designated the church as a shrine, and millions of pilgrims from around the world visit it every year. These pilgrims have included both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, whose visits are commemorated by reliefs at the entrance to the chapel. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 4,Thursday: Krakow, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska & Krakow. This morning travel to Wadowice, birthplace of Pope John Paul II, and visit the museum located in his family's home. Continue to one of the shrines that was dearest to Pope John Paul II, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. Also known as “Polish Jerusalem,” the town is named after a 17th-century governor of Krakow who built a series of chapels on the side of a mountain to resemble shrines and chapels in the Holy Land. Pope John Paul II first visited this shrine as a child, and later brought his own students here to pray, converse, and meditate. In the book where pilgrims write their intentions, he once wrote the following message: “I have come to Our Lady of Kalwaria, to whom I have felt very close, ever since I was very small, with the sole purpose of placing everything in her hands.” Before returning to Krakow for dinner and overnight, visit the Sanctuary of Virgin Mary and the decorative cloisters in the town’s 17th-century Franciscan monastery. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Our journeys today will cover 75 miles and take approximately 2¼ hours.
Day 5, Friday: Krakow & Wieliczka Salt Mines. A working mine from the 13th century until the end of the 20th century, the Wieliczka Salt Mines’ claim to fame are miles of galleries with amazing works of art, life-size statues, altars and entire churches sculpted from the rock salt by miners. As soon as you step foot into the mines, you will understand why they are called “the Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland.” In fact, the mines contain several cathedrals where miners would gather together for Sunday Mass and religious services are still performed. You will be simply stunned by the grandeur of the main cathedral, decorated with salt rock chandeliers polished to a glasslike transparency and a series of three-dimensional biblical scenes carved into the walls. After returning to Krakow, the day is yours to explore on your own. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Our journeys today will cover 20 miles and take approximately 1 hour.
Day 6, Saturday: Krakow, Auschwitz & Czestochowa. After breakfast travel to Oswiecim, better known as Auschwitz, one of the most somber reminders of recent history. Observe several camp units, including the largest one at Brzezinka (Birkenau), as well as the cell of the martyred St. Maximilian. Continue to Czestochowa and visit Jasna Gora Monastery, the third-largest pilgrimage site in the world and, for many, the spiritual capital of Poland. Its most sacred treasure is an image of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa, to which miraculous powers have been attributed. Dinner and overnight. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Our journeys today will cover 115 miles and take approximately 3¼ hours.
Day 7, Sunday: Czestochowa, Brno & Prague. After Sunday Mass, continue your journey into the Czech Republic, stopping first in stately Brno, the capital of Moravia. A sightseeing tour includes brooding Špilberk Castle, the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul and Villa Tugendhat, an exemplary work of modern architecture by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. After savoring a hearty traditional lunch, proceed to Prague for dinner and overnight. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Our journeys today will cover 345 miles and take approximately 6½ hours.
Day 8, Monday: Prague. Fairy-tale Prague is a feast for the eyes. The city center is a mélange of stunning architecture, from Gothic, Renaissance and baroque to neoclassical, art nouveau and Cubist. Start your day with a panoramic bus drive, which will introduce you to landmarks such as the Charles Bridge, the Lesser Town, and the Old Town Square. Then continue exploring by foot, visiting the Prague Castle and, located within it, St. Vitus Cathedral, a magnificent example of Gothic architecture and the most important church in the country. Next visit the Church of Our Lady Victorious, where you will find the world-renowned statue of the Holy Infant Child of Prague (also known as the Infant Jesus), which is said to have protected the city for centuries and inspires the devotion of countless pilgrims each year. Spend the rest of the day exploring Prague’s thrilling history and cultural legacy on your own. Consider a visit to the Jewish Ghetto, where you will find the oldest still existing synagogue in Europe. Breakfast provided.
Day 9, Tuesday: Prague, Pilsen & Regensburg. This morning continue westward through Bohemia. At Pilsen, a town famous for its beer, view the Gothic St. Bartholomew's Cathedral, whose spire is the highest in the Czech Republic, which has no shortage of soaring church towers; the Renaissance Town Hall; and the second-largest synagogue in Europe. Walk along a historic underground tunnel and cellar network, and take a tour of the Plzeňský Prazdroj beer brewery, where you will discover for yourself why many hold Czech beer to be the best in the world. After lunch proceed to Regensburg for dinner and overnight. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Our journeys today will cover 170 miles and take approximately 4 hours.
Day 10, Wednesday: Regensburg. One of Germany's best-preserved medieval cities, Regensburg has played a central role in the life of Pope Benedict XVI for forty years. Here Pope Benedict XVI taught theology and developed his approach to Church doctrine, before becoming the Archbishop of Munich and Freising and a Cardinal. A walking tour will acquaint you with the places that defined Pope Benedict XVI’s life in the city, including the Regensburg Cathedral, the University of Regensburg, the Old Town Hall and one of the two last remaining Roman gates in Germany. Afternoon is at leisure to explore this fascinating and romantic city on your own. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 11, Thursday: Regensburg, Altoetting & Munich. After breakfast travel to Marktl am Inn, the birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI, born as Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger in 1927. After viewing the house where he was born, continue to the nearby village of Altoetting, the most visited pilgrimage site in Germany. Pope Benedict, who often visited the shrine as a child with his parents and siblings, called it the “heart of Bavaria and one of the hearts of Europe.” Visit the Chapel of Grace, which holds the Black Madonna of Altoetting, a venerated statue of the Virgin Mary that is said to have revived a young boy who drowned in the 15th century, among many other miracles. After celebrating Mass, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Continue to Munich for overnight. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Our journeys today will cover 155 miles and take approximately 3½ hours.
Day 12, Friday: Munich. Munich was home to Pope Benedict XVI for five years during his days as Archbishop. Visit the Church of Our Lady, the seat of the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. Walk around the Marienplatz, a large open square in the heart of the city anchored by a delightful Marian Column with a golden statue of the Virgin Mary on top. This is where Cardinal Ratzinger took leave of his archbishopric before setting off for Rome in 1982, and where he held an outdoor Mass for hundreds of thousands of people on a return trip in 2006. End your tour with a visit to the Baroque Nymphenburg Palace, the former summer residence of the dynasty that ruled Bavaria for centuries. Afternoon is at leisure. Share your reflections with your fellow travelers over a farewell dinner. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 13, Saturday: Munich/USA. Transfer to the airport for your flight home. Breakfast provided.
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