12 days 11 nights Eastern Europe tour
Experience a phenomenal pilgrimage tour that will include visits to the holy places in the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Croatia
Afternoon arrival into the golden city of Prague famous for its Gothic and Baroque architecture and ranked as one of the most beautifully preserved cities in Europe. Remainder of the day at leisure. Overnight.
Today we visit St Vitus Cathedral, the city’s most distinctive landmark which houses the crown jewels and the tomb of ‘Good King’ Wenceslas. Visit the Hradcany area and Prague Castle. We continue our pilgrimage with the celebration of Mass at the Church of Our Lady Victorious and where we come face to face with the Holy Infant of Prague. This wax figure has an impressive record of miracle cures and is one of the most revered images in the Catholic world. Later we cross the historical Charles Bridge built in 1400 and continue on to the Old Town area including Wenceslas Square, Celetna Lane, Old Town Square (with its random network of streets dating back to the 13th Century), the Town Hall with the astronomical clock and Tyn Cathedral. Overnight.
PRAGUE TO CZESTACHOWA (570km/6h)
Depart Prague this morning as we journey east into Poland and on to the Shrine of Our Lady of Wambierzyce in the foothills of the Table Mountains, where we will celebrate Mass. This is one of the oldest Polish places of Christian pilgrimage featuring a Jerusalem like setting and home to the miniature miraculous image of the Virgin Mary. The Shrine's grounds and surrounding hills are dotted with numerous chapels, grottos and stations depicting important events in the life of Jesus and Mary. While here we visit the Szopka with its hundreds of tiny mechanized figures carved from limewood reliving the Gospel stories. Continue east in the afternoon to Czestachowa and the fortress monastery of the Pauline monks of Jasna Gora (meaning Bright Hill). Overnight.
Czestachowa is home to the cherished miraculous icon of Our Lady with the Child Jesus, an object of veneration for centuries (also known as the Black Madonna). Attracting more than five million pilgrims every year, Our Lady of Czestachowa is recognized as one of the most visited places of Christian pilgrimage in the world. This morning we will celebrate a private Mass before the image here in the ancient chapel. Later we will tour the Basilica, Treasury, Museum and Knights Hall before a group procession along the Way of the Cross. An optional later visit to Jura Krakowsko, part of the Polish Jurassic Rock Upland will be enjoyed as the fit and able take a walk up the hill to the ruins of the Gothic Castle of Olsztyn before having the rest of the day set aside to wander and reflect at our own pace. Overnight.
AUSCHWITZ AND WADOWICE (190km/4h)
In the morning depart from Czestochowa and journey south and enter on a prayerful encounter to Auschwitz where we mourn the millions of people who were put to death in this, the biggest concentration camp of Hitler’s Nazism. Pope John Paul II has termed this place the Golgotha of the modern world. We pray in the martyrdom bunker of St Maximilian Kolbe and view his cell while reflecting upon his selfless courage. Here we will have Mass in the Chapel of St Paul. Continue to Wadowice the birthplace of Karol Wojtyla (the late Pope John Paul II) where we enter his family house and even the grounds where he used to play Football! The central point of the town is the market square with its Parish Church, and the famous Baptismal basin where Karol was baptized. Next to the church we find the Pope’s birthplace and the nearby Museum encompassing the former home of the Wojtyla family. On route to Krakow we visit the celebrated Marian site of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, which remains the favourite boyhood shrine of Pope John Paul II. Overnight.
Here in Krakow we bask in the two-fold grace of Divine Mercy and Pope John Paul the Great who served as the city’s Archbishop. After 2pm, we will enter the Wawel Cathedral where in the crypt below Fr Karol was ordained in 1946 and celebrated his first Mass. View St. Florians Church where we will celebrate Mass, and where the young Karol developed a flourishing underground youth ministry at great risk. Travel on to St Mary’s Church, University and Market Square to experience one of the most beautiful medieval city centres in Europe. Overnight.
Our morning will feature an enthralling tour of the famous Wieliczka Salt Mines, the oldest operational mines in Europe and dating back to the 13th century.In the afternoon we will come to the inspired Shrine of Divine Mercy where, between 1931 – 1938 Our Lord appeared to Sr Faustina Kowalska (a Polish Sister of Mercy) entrusting with her the mission of spreading His message of merciful love for humanity. During our visit we will celebrate Mass at the shrine, and witness the miraculous image of the Merciful Jesus before venerating the tomb of St Faustina.Overnight.
KRAKOW TO ZAKOPANE (110km/2h)
Depart south this morning to the resort village of Zakopane to celebrate Mass in the Church of Our Lady of Fatima (built in thanksgiving of John Paul II' s narrow escape from assassination on May 13, 1981). This afternoon, enjoy free time to explore and relax in the surrounding scenery of the Tetras Mountains with its many trails once walked by Fr Karol and his companions. Overnight.
BUDAPEST ( 330km/6h)
This morning we leave Zakopane and cross into the Slovak Republic, through magnificent alpine landscape into Hungary and en route to Budapest on the river Danube. [Situated on opposite banks of the Danube, the former cities of Buda and Pest are linked by a series of graceful bridges.Before our arrival in Budapest we will take the opportunity to visit the hilltop Cathedral of Esztergom serving as the spiritual centre of Hungarian Catholicism.On arrival in Budapest , our afternoon tour begins with a visit and Mass at the Basilica of St Stephen which holds the mummified hand of King Saint Stephen. Continue on to view the decorative Parliament building, Heroes Square, the 118 foot high Corinthian column dedicated to the Roman Catholic Church, the 13th century Church of St Matthias and the Fisherman’s Bastion. Finish our tour with a panoramic view of the city from Gellert Hill.Overnight in Budapest.
BUDAPEST TO ZAGREB (350km/4h)
We say farewell to Budapest today before an enthralling drive alongside tranquil Lake Balaton known as the ‘Hungarian Sea’ being the largest lake in Central Europe. Stop to admire the Abbey of Tihany perched on a peninsula reaching out into the lake. In the afternoon continue on into Croatia to the Shrine of the Eucharistic Miracle of Ludbreg (1411) and to the local parish Church of the Holy Trinity which houses the sacred relic enshrined in a beautiful monstrance. Celebrate our Mass together in the lovely church before the Eucharistic miracle and then continue to the Croatian capital. Overnight.
This morning we enjoy a guided city tour of Zagreb featuring the fortified historic Upper Town including a visit to St Mark’s Church dating back to the 13th century. Continue on to St Catherine’s Church and the Cathedral of the Assumption whose twin spires are visible from afar. Nearby is the Stone Gate containing a shrine to the Virgin Mary believed to possess miraculous powers. This afternoon we travel to Croatia’s National Sanctuary of Our Lady of Bistrica and home to a fifteenth century miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary. Here we will celebrate our final Mass. Take the opportunity to kneel before the black wooden figure of the smiling Madonna with the infant Jesus. Free time back in Zagreb. Overnight.
DEPART ZAGREB (390km/5h)
Transfer to airport.