WADOWICE, POPE JOHN PAUL II’s HOMETOWN, MARCH 30, 2007
The quaint town of Wadowice, filled with 19th century burgher houses and Gothic churches, stands the Skawa River, near the confluence of the all-important Vistula. The area is know chiefly as a scenic tourist area, but Wadowice is of particular importance to Catholic pilgrims, especially those of Polish heritage.
Wadowice is the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. Fear was that Wadowice would end up a Papal Graceland, and whereas there are countless stands selling images of Father Karol Wojtyla, the future Pope, in fitting with the holiness of the site, they are kept to a minimum.
There are two main ‘can’t miss’ places in town for those seeking Papal landmarks. The first houses the small flat where Wojtyla was born in 1920, now converted in to a museum. Anything but explotive, it shows the simplicity with which the humble man was raised. Mostly homey items: skis, a rucksack, a cap, a prayer book, for example, stand in contrast to the glorious robes and papal hat, but a photograph of his funeral remind us that he wished to buried in a simple wooden coffin.
Nearby is the baroque church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary facing the central square. Here is where was baptized a Catholic and later confirmed, served as an altar boy and prayed daily here before its miraculous picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The church’s Gothic chancel dates from the 15th century, while the late-Baroque nave and aisles were built in the 1790s.
The left aisle contains a baptismal font where the baby Karol Wojtyla was baptized.