Few years ago, no one imagined that the vast, industrial area full of factory chimneys will totaly change its apperance. So-called White Sea – former territory of Krakow ‘Solvay’ Soda Works was used as a storage of waste from the factory. After 1989 soda works bankrupted and some of its areas were revitalized and greened (approx. 30 hectares of green areas were created). In the middle of it, Krakow Archdiocese established new Sanctuary of St. John Paul II.
Erection of the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II
The main initiator of mentioned idea was Cardinal and Archbishop of Kraków Stanisław Dziwisz. Looking for a suitable place for the new sanctuary he searched for a symbolic home, which Karol Wojtyła never had – his apartment in Wadowice was just rented, as a student he lived in a house with his relative. Then as a priest he stayed at the parish houses in Niegowić and St. Florian’s in Krakow. When Karol Wojtyła become a bishop he was accommodated in Curia Palace, and after his election in 1978 he moved to Apostolic Palace in Vatican. A year after John Paul II died, the next Pope Benedict XVI blessed the foundation stone of the new sanctuary. Works started in 2008, few days before the 30 anniversary of Karol Wojtyła election as a Pope. The center was named ‘Do not be afraid…’, which is a reference to Pope’s memorable words from October 1979, during the inauguration of his pontificate.
Architecture and symbolic ideas of the new sanctuary
The Center “Do not be afraid…” was set up on a square that opens towards the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki and points the way to it. The square is in a size of Wadowice market, with a Small Błonia next to it, where the faithful gather during a mess, and the buildings around the square, whose names refers to the values present in teachings and life of St. John Paull II: Fides (faith) Ratio (reason), Veritas (truth), and Caritas (charity). The center structure was built of brick and light stone as the “Holy City located on the hill.”
The most important building of the new sanctuary is the church – a shrine of St. John Paull II, divided into a lower and an upper part. It was established to commemorate the person and pontificate of the Polish Pope and was set up on an octagonal plan, which is a reference to the beginnings of Christianity in early medieval Poland. The main altar wall and side walls in the upper church are covered with mosaics with a rich iconographic program and deep theological sense (over than 600 m2!).
In the central place of the lower church stands the altar with relics of Holy Father – here you can see a bit of his blood, preserved in a glass casket. Nearby shallows are fulfilled by mosaics depicting the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and images presenting Pope’s visits in shrines devoted to Virgin Mary (Fatima, Czestochowa, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Lourdes, Mariazell, and Altotting). Moreover, the lower temple is surrounded by chapels and oratories (worth mentioning is the Chapel Leviticus – designed on a base of the Vault of St. Leonard in the Wawel Cathedral and the Chapel of Virgin Mary of Ludzmierz).
This sanctuary and temple is definitely a place where you still can fell the presence of John Paul II. People from all over the world come to visit it and pray in front of his relics. Undoubtedly, no one like he had an ability to unite all nations and people with different views and perspectives.
Masses celebrated in the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II on Sundays and public holidays (in the upper church):
8.00, 9.30, 11.00 (for families with children), 12.30, 17.00
Masses celebrated in the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II on weekdays (in the lower church, in front of the Altar with Pope’s relics):
8:00, 10:00, 12:00, 17:00
Holy Sacrament of Reconciliation, daily hours. 7: 30-9.00; 9.30-13.00; 15.15-18: 00
Sanctuary is wide open to visitors in hours when masses are not celebrated. It should also be noted that this wonderful place is located on the pilgrimage route, prepared by Krakow Guide: http://guide-krakow.com/krakow-sanctuaries/.