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On the pilgrimage route

As early as in the beginnings of the 17th century, the writer Andrzej Święcicki tried to convince that Płock "exceeds all of the towns of Mazovia with its antiquity, beauty of its location, the worship of a magnificent temple and the bishop capital". Płock was also called "the town of churches".
The importance of centuries-old past of Płock, as a special place "in the history of our Homeland, in the history of Church, in the history of Sainthood" was emphasized by the pope John Paul II "I am glad that I am able to (...) visit Płock– one of the Piast capitals of our country and at the same time an ancient bishop capital" - with these words John Paul II greeted the Płock inhabitants during his fourth pilgrimage to Poland in 1991 over the papal altar was then placed the image of Merciful Jesus, as it was here, in Płock, where St. Faustina Kowalska had the first vision of the image today well-known all around the world.
Płock is one of cities on the "luminous route". Many prominent figures are connected to it. Apart from the Saint Faustina these are St. Andrew Bobola and blessed father Honorat Koźmiński - both associated with the "Małachowianka" and two ministers, beatified by John Paul II: Archbishop Antoni Julian Nowowiejski and bishop Leon Wetmański.
Finally, Płock is the capital of the Mariavite Church. Here is located the only European Old Catholic Mariavites Church cathedral where the foundress - Maria Franciszka Kozłowska is buried.
In my thoughts I walk down this luminous route, where St. Faustina Kowalska was preparing to accept the speech on mercy – the route from Łódź and Warsaw, through Płock, Vilnius and up to Cracow.
This is what the Pope said during the Mass on the in Cracow Błonia on 18 August 2002. It was him, who beatified the modest Faustina Kowalska from the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. On 22 February 1931, in Płock, 26 year old Faustina had a vision of Merciful Jesus and heard his request, concerning establishing the God’s Mercy Holiday in Church.
Thanks to Faustina, the famous painting of Merciful Jesus was created with the text "Jesus, I trust in you". Many years later the Pope, a Pole introduced a new church holiday – the God’s Mercy Sunday (the first Sunday after Easter). John Paul II beatified (18.04.1993) and then canonized (30.04.2000) Faustina, in the traces of which many pilgrims from around the world still follow today.
At the house of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy at the Old Market Square 14/18 a God’s Mercy Sanctuary is located including a chapel with the painting of Merciful Jesus and the relics of St. Faustina. In the former bakery, where she worked while staying in the house of the Congregation in Płock (1930-32), there is now a Museum of St. Faustina. Many souvenirs and documents related to the first Polish saint and the first mystic were collected in it. In the historical cellars an authentic furnace for baking bread was preserved, while in the neighbouring rooms kitchen equipment and the monastic cellar of Faustina were reconstructed.
Currently the expansion of the holy place is in progress – the tiny chapel will be replaced by a sanctuary that will accommodate about 1000 of the faithful.
Płock takes pride in being one of the cities visited by the Pope. The pope, a Pole John Paul II, the great Apostle of God's Mercy, visited the town between 7-8 June 1991, during his fourth pilgrimage to his Homeland. The pope held a mass in the Cathedral and on the square in front of the stadium. The most important element of the field altar was the enormous icon of Merciful Jesus (2.2 m x 5 m), which is now located in the St. Joseph church at Górna Street.
A special event during this pilgrimage was the meeting of John Paul II with prisoners from the Płock Penitentiary. This was the first time – and as it turned out the only time – that the pope visited a Polish prison. He said then: "Many times I have visited prisons and prisoners in during my papal years in Rome, in Italy and in other countries of the world. But in Poland this was the first time" The only, after Cracow, informal meeting of John Paul II with young people in the window of the " Bishop House", where the Pope stayed overnight, made history. The atmosphere of this evening was equally warm as on the Franciszkańska Street and the Pope said: "I am very glad that I can speak to you here, through this window. So far, I have only managed that in Cracow". 
The Papal pilgrimage to Płock is commemorated by the monument of John Paul II, standing at the Cathedral, designed by Gustaw Zemła. On the Pope's chasuble the image of Merciful Jesus was placed, and on the pedestal, the following text: "I greet the entire Mazovia".
There is no way of learning about the heritage and the atmosphere of the town without visiting the monuments situated on the Tumskie Hill. Let's begin with the Casthedral of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary, consecrated in 1144, later many times rebuilt, which is one the oldest in Poland. In the Royal Chapel rest the ashes of Mazovian Dukes and two of the rulers of Poland – Władysław Herman (1079-1102) and his son Boleslaus the Wry-Mouthed (1102-1138), during their reign Płock was the actual capital of Poland. It is also worth it to see a replica of bronze Romanesque Płock Doors and discover their history.
Opposite of the cathedral, in a former Benedictine abbey and the dukes castle the Diocesan Museum is located. The buildings date back to the 16th century and have two towers with the Gothic origin: Noblemen's and Clock. In the treasury priceless monuments of sacral art have been collected, among others, the Herma of St. Sigismund – the patron of Płock (the gift from King Kazimierz the Great from 1370) a chalice with an epergne, founded by Conrad of Mazovia and numerous monstrances. The most recent exhibition "Christ in art" presents impressive collections of sacral paintings and sculptures (also Gothic).
In the second building of the museum from 1903, there is a unique collection of nearly 100 kontush sashes in a specially designed cabinet.
At the market square you can find the Darmstadt House – former Berlin Hotel in which in the 1802-1804 period E.T.A. Hoffmann, the famous German Romantic author lived. Close to the Darmstadt House – today the center of culture and cooperation with partner cities of Płock (Darmstadt being one of them is) the Tourist Information Center is located.
Walking further, on the right side, we pass Dom pod Trąbami (House under Horns), with preserved fragments of Gothic walls, before which stands the bust of the blessed Leon Wetmański, killed by Nazis in the camp in Działdowo, beatified by John Paul II. At Narutowicza Square, the former Canonical Market, stand two former canonries – in one Bishop House is currently located, the other, Gothic one, is the seat of one of the oldest in Poland, Płock Scientific Society.
The Zielińscy Library belongs to the TNP (Płock Scientific Society) (a Classicistic Dom pod Opatrznością (House under Providence), on the opposite side of the square). In the enormous collections of TNP you will find, among others,80 graphics of Goya "Los Caprichos", the first issue of "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" by Nicolas Copernicus or Card from the 9th century with the text from the biblical Book of Wisdom. At Plac Narutowicza since around 1600 the Bishop's Palace stands, which was rebuilt several times and in the 19th century adapted for the use of the court.
"Małachowianka" deserves special attention" being the oldest Polish high school, mentioned as early as in 1180 and operating continuously to this day, initially at the collegiate of Saint Michael and in the 17th/ 18th century at the College of Jesuits. Among outstanding teachers connected to it are, among others, Saint Andrew Bobola, the rhetorics lecturer. The students of Małachowianka were among others: the blessed Honorat Koźmiński, Capuchin and a religious writer or Ignacy Mościcki – President of the Republic of Poland. In the cellar of high school a School Museum is located with relics of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and in the Gothic tower – an astronomical observatory.
The favourite place of meetings and numerous visits for the tourists is the Old Market Square Square, with a modern illuminated fountain. A Classicistic town hall stands at it, designed by the famous architect Jacob Kubicki (the creator of the Belweder and the author of the first draft of the Temple of Divine Providence in Warsaw). On 23 September 1831 in Płock the last meeting of the Sejm of the Polish Kingdom was held in the town hall. From the building of the tower the bugle-call resounds every day and is accompanied by the emergence of figures of the rulers, Herman and Boleslaus the Wry-Mouthed in the scene of knighting. The Old Town is a vibrant place, the heart of the town, especially in the spring-summer period, and in the winter the main attraction is the ice rink.
At the Old Market Square the Darmstadt House is located – the former Berlin Hotel, in which in the 1802-1804 period E.T.A. Hoffman lived, the famous German Romantic author. In the vicinity of the Darmstadt House – today the center of culture and cooperation with partner cities of Płock (the Darmstadt being one of them) Tourist Information Center and Płock Local Tourist Organization are located.
When leaving the Old Market Square you may want to go to the parish church of St. Bartholomew, built in 1356. In the 18th century the church was rebuilt, and the entrance facade in the Baroque style was added on the side of the Old Market Square. The gem of the parish church is an early Baroque altar, dating back to 1640.
Following up Kazimierza Wielkiego Street a soaring silhouette of the Temple of Mercy and Charity will surely catch your eye, it is a Neo-Gothic church-monastic complex belonging to the Old Catholic Mariavites Church.
The church, built in 1911-1914 has the importance of a cathedral. In the cellar the foundress of the Mariavites church, Maria Franciszka Kozłowska is buried and first mariavite bishops. On 15 August each year, the faithful from all over Poland and abroad make a pilgrimage to the Płock sanctuary.
In the landscape of Płock still many more interesting sites can be found. You simply cannot miss the Mazovian Museum located in the beautifully restored Art Nouveau tenement house at 8 Tumska Street. Its collections include, the biggest in Poland, Art Nouveau art collection with works of, among others, Laszczka, Mehoffer, Wyspiański, Lalique, Mucha.
True gems are hidden in the Library of the Higher Theological Seminar, including beautifully illuminated manuscripts from the 12th century or a true rarity, 16th century Jakub Wujek Bible. The library is located in a vast seminar complex which has 300 years long teaching traditions.
Next to the seminar there is the Church of John the Baptist, built in the 1758-71 period in the late Baroque style. The primary interior equipment with rich Rococo carved decoration was preserved. In front of the church stands the monument of the blessed Abp Antoni Julian Nowowiejski, beatified by Pope John Paul II. He was a highly deserving Płock bishop, murdered in the Nazi camp in Działdowo.
Płock is the hometown of Władysław Broniewski. At Kościuszki Street 24 you can see the house in which the famous poet lived. Nearby, you will find an oak (a nature monument) to which he often referred in his poetry.
Strong relations of the town with the Marshal Józef Piłsudski, the first Honorary Citizen of Płock are commemorated by the monument, standing on Plac Obrońców Warszawy (The Defenders of Warsaw Square). For the heroic defense in the Polish – Bolshevic war in 1920, the Marshall honoured Płock with the Cross of Valour (only Lvov was honoured in such way). The heroes of this war rest in Płock necropolises, among which there is a cemetery older than the Powązki cemetery (opened in 1780).
After a tiring walk you can rest on the beach by the Sobótka lido and enjoy the possibilities of water equipment rental. You can also cruise the Vistula River on the "Rusałka" boat or a motor boat. A yacht harbor is waiting for sailing amateurs.
A good idea, not only for children, is visiting the Old Town by the Tumska Steam-engine train, which transports us to the Zoo, picturesquely located on the slope over Vistula. Płock zoo is one of the top Polish zoos and is home to approx. 3,500 animals of more than 300 species. We will see, among others, giraffes, penguins, lions and the smallest monkeys in the world – tamarins and marmosets. A crowned pigeon - the largest pigeon in the world also lives in the zoo as well as an 80 year old alligator named Marta, the oldest animal living in the European zoological gardens.

Wykonanie: Kamikaze