WARSAW, Poland – In his native Poland, Pope John Paul II's old stomping grounds are places of pilgrimage. Here are the top five spots in Poland associated with the superstar pope, who will be made a saint at a ceremony in Vatican on Sunday.
THE PALACE OF THE KRAKOW BISHOPS
In the southern city of Krakow, the 19th century palace in Franciszkanska Street 3 was the residence of Bishop Karol Wojtyla from 1963 until 1978, when he was chosen as pope and took the name of John Paul II. On his visits to the city, John Paul would stand in an open window and chat with the cheering crowd gathered in the street. The "papal window" is now a gathering point on pope-related occasions.
WAWEL CASTLE CATHEDRAL
Dating back to the 11th century, the cathedral is part of the Renaissance Wawel Castle and holds the ashes of Poland's kings. On Nov. 2, 1946, in the cathedral's crypt of St. Leonard, the Rev. Karol Wojtyla celebrated his first Mass as a priest. He was made bishop at the cathedral's main altar in July 1958, and often prayed at St. Stanislas' tomb.
JOHN PAUL II SANCTUARY
The sanctuary on the edge of Krakow consists of a new church and pilgrim center. It's the brainchild of John Paul's personal secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who is now the city's archbishop. In 2011, Dziwisz placed a reliquary with a vial of John Paul's blood in its altar. It also has the white tombstone from John Paul's first grave in the Vatican grottoes.
People will gather at the sanctuary for a prayer vigil on Saturday night, and on Sunday watch the Vatican canonization ceremony.
JOHN PAUL II MUSEUM
The John Paul II museum in the pontiff's hometown of Wadowice includes the apartment where he was born. Consisting of a living room, single bedroom and kitchen, it includes some original objects — such as a kneeler — from the time the future pope lived there. Visitors can also see the gun that would-be-assassin Ali Agca used when he shot and wounded John Paul in St. Peter's Square in 1981.
BASILICA OF THE PRESENTATION OF THE HOLY VIRGIN MARY
This is Wojtyla's parish church, where he was baptized, served as an altar boy and stopped to pray on his way to school. The basilica has a chapel dedicated to John Paul with a reliquary containing a drop of his blood on the altar.