Located in Łagiewniki, a suburb of Kraków, the shrine of Divine Mercy includes a new basilica, and the convent of nuns, the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. It is also the convent of the mystic Saint Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), who saw a vision of Jesus Christ with red and white rays of light emanating from his heart. The image – known as the ‘Jesus of the Divine Mercy’ – is purported to have miraculous healing properties, leading to Faustina’s eventual canonisation by Pope John Paul II in 2000. Jesus Christ gave the message of the Divine Mercy to the Church and to the whole world. It sheds light on the mystery of the Divine Mercy, calls to put trust in God and have merciful attitude towards neighbors and also to proclaim and pray for Divine Mercy for whole world through practicing new forms of worship of the Divine Mercy (the Divine Mercy Image, the Divine Mercy Sunday, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and the Hour of Mercy). A big proponent of the cult of Saint Faustina and of Divine Mercy, during WWII, the future pope prayed at this site every day, and the enormous new, boat-shaped basilica was built on his initiative between 1999 and 2002. Attached to the church is a tower offering superb views of the city, and next door is a building called the ‘House of Saint Faustina’, displaying everyday objects from her life (open 08:00-18:00). The small original church inside the convent contains Saint Faustina’s relics, and the site receives over 2 million pilgrims a year. www.faustyna.pl The shrine is only 5 minutes walk from the hotel.
The John Paul II Institute Located in Łagiewniki, within convenient 5mins walking distance from the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy, the ambitious ‘Have No Fear!’ John Paul II Centre (the official name of which refers to his famous words during his inauguration speech) is a large complex devoted to the legacy and spiritual teachings of every Pole’s favourite Pope, including many facilities for pilgrims. The primary highlights for visitors are the Sanctuary of St. John Paul II – a chapel with relics of the former pope, including a vial of his blood and the blood-stained cossack he was wearing during the 1981 assassination attempt on his life (open 07:30-18:00, in summer 07:30-19:00; sanktuariumjp2.pl; free (donation-based) guided tours in English available); the John Paul II Institute – where visitors will see a copy of the Shroud of Turin (open 08:00-16:00, closed Sat, Sun; free admission); the Archdiocesan Museum of St. John Paul II – which displays the personal belongings of the Pope and a rich collection of papal gifts received during his world travels (opening hours subject to change, check online at archimuzeum.pl; admission 10/6zł); and the observation tower – from which you’ll see panoramic views of the surrounding area (open from April until mid-October only, 09:00-17:00; 4/2zł). There is also a cafe serving the Pope’s beloved ‘kremówka’ cake (note that there’s no other proper food available). www.sanktuariumjp2.pl