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John Paul II

The birthplace of one Karol Wojtyła (better known to the world as Pope John Paul II), Wadowice is a pretty little town 50km south west from Krakow, 14km west of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska that today welcomes pilgrims in the tens of thousands. And when – not if – the late pontiff is canonised, it is likely to surpass even Częstochowa as Poland’s top pilgrimage centre. Unlike Lourdes and other places where miracles are said to happen, the atmosphere here is not sombre and talk does not come in the form of whispers; indeed, in keeping with the spirit of the man and his vision, Wadowice is a joyous place.

The Family Home of John Paul II where Karol was born in May 1920; is based just beside the 18th-century Lesser Basilica, where he was baptised a month later. Outside the church is a monument to Pope John Paul II, which is known as the ‘Cream Cake Statue’ in some circles. It seems that when the pope visited his hometown in 1999, he sat in almost the same spot and reminisced about how he and his mates would enjoy kremówki (cream cakes) from a certain shop ‘just over there’. The statue actually depicts the pope in the usual pastoral pose, with his hand raised in a blessing, but it might look to some as though he is pointing.Naturally, you can’t miss trying a kremówka, the calorific pastry of cream, eggs, sugar and a dash of brandy.

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