July 7th we went to Wawel Cathedral, which holds the remains of many royal family members and relics of saints. Some of these include Saint Stanislaus, Wenceslaus, and Jadwiga. Queen Jadwiga, or 'The Girl King', got her title at twelve, after her father died and she was left with a country to take care of. She chose to marry a man twice her age to protect her country, instead of the man she loved. Most importantly, she made those important decisions at the foot of cross, or in her case, the 'Black Cross', located in Wawel. One of our pilgrims, Alek, was assigned to look up the royal (So all of this information is from him; thanks Alek!)
"She had every right to be the most nasty woman, but she was always kind to her people and her husband, and always put their needs first."
The Cathedral itself was beautiful, and every way you turned your head there was something new and exciting to look at. At one point we climbed to the top of the tower and touched a 1300 lb bell. According to pilgrim Shane:
"It really showed the faith of the people. They had to work together to get it up there, and it must have been hard, but they did it together."
The Bike Ride
What Shane said reminds me of what we did next -- a bike ride around Krakow, including stops such as JPIIs home and church (St. Stanislaus Kostka) during WWII. I personally struggle a lot with bike riding, and wasn't very good at it (Ask anybody who was there!). But kind of like what Shane said, my peirs helped me and lifted me up (sometimes literally), and I pushed through and did it! Being surrounded by people who cared and had such faith in me made me have faith in myself.
Happy 18th Birthday, Alek!
After the long and exhausting ride, we went out for some dessert. The 7th was a special day, as it was pilgrim Alek's 18th birthday! What better way to become an adult than to be living such an amazing experience in a country so rich in the faith. I hope he had a fantastic birthday, and to close I will share with you some words he said at our nightly wrap-up:
"I always only saw the rules in our faith. This trip -- this whole year -- I've learned that [Catholicism] is not all rules. It's a relationship. A relationship of love, and of mercy."
More to come soon!
-Maria, Proud Pilgrim
The Media Team!