Gron Jana Pawla II (Peak of John Paul II)
The Chapel of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross in the mountain sanctuary on Gron Jana Pawla II [Peak of John Paul II] in the Beskid Maly (Small Beskid) is known to the people of the mountains. They come here in groups and as individual tourists from all over Poland and also from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and France. For some this is the place of their wandering and for others it is one of the most important points on the tourist routes. They all are united in prayers for the Polish Pope John Paul II, who visited the peak of Jaworzyna as earlier as in his school years.
The sanctuary on Gron Jana Pawla II is the work of the people who loved the mountains like the Holy Father did. It was the idea of Danuta and Stefan Jakubowski and their children, family of mountain guides from Andrychow. The idea of their lives has been to commemorate the places that Karol Wojtyla visited. The first idea that was fulfilled was to change the name of the peak of Jaworzyna, located near Leskowiec, to Gron Jana Pawla II. The hiking routes, which Karol Wojtyla followed, also received the name of the Pope, our Countryman. The tourist badges for the participants of the John Paul II route were put on the Cross 'To the People of the Mountains', funded by the Jakubowskis. The very chapel - gift for the Holy Father on his 75th birthday - is also the initiative of the Jakubowskis who gathered many tourists and friends at prayer meetings held at the cross 'To the People of the Mountains'. The designers incorporated the cross itself and its low relief, presenting the Holy Father with a rosary, into the mass of the chapel on the peak of Gron. The chapel has symbolic dimensions. Its length - 13 meters and its width - 5 meters commemorate the day and month of the assassination attempt on the life of the Holy Father. A sacristy was build next to the chapel. The picture of Mary Queen of the People of the Mountains with a figure of kneeling Pope was placed in the chancel. The papal chair, which the Holy Father used at Mass in Skoczow Kaplicowka, is at the altar. Mrs Danuta Jakubowska put bread and salt on this chair in 1999 and 2002 in order to greet symbolically the Holy Father who stopped in mid-air over the sanctuary on his way to Wadowice. He greeted the hosts and pilgrims. In the chapel there are also gifts of the Holy Father: two rosaries, silver cross and ciborium, which will be placed in the future museum on Gron.
The dedication of the chapel on Gron by Bishop Tadeusz Pieronek was not the end of the spiritual endeavours of the Jakubowskis and their friends of the prayer group. The stations of the Way of the Cross, small field chapels and a belfry with a new bell called St Charles Boromeus, were erected around the chapel. In 2001 a monument to the Holy Father was placed there. It has the inscription 'To the greatest Pilgrim of the 20th century, Advocate of Peace, The Pope of Faith, Hope and Love'. The place with the footsteps of Karol Wojtyla must have contained symbolic footsteps of the Polish Pope. After the death of the Holy Father Mr Jakubowski carved the signs of the papal shoes on the rocky path leading to the monument to John Paul II. 'I wanted us, the conservator and founder of the sanctuary on Gron, says filled with emotion, 'to remember that we are to follow Christ in his footsteps'.
The Jakubowskis corresponded with the Vatican for all those years. The home archive was being filled with the letters from the Holy Father. The last letter, written by a trembling hand, containing wishes, came at Easter 2005. The archive also contains the letters of the Holy Father's secretary Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was in favour of all the big endeavours on Gron. These letters, which the Jakubowskis treat as relics, will find their place in the planned museum of John Paul II on Gron.
The chapel on Gron is a filial church belonging to the parish of St Matthias in Andrychow, whose parish priest is Rev. Msgr. Stanislaw Czernik. And although Masses were celebrated there by many priests, bishops and cardinals the chapel is under the care of the Andrychow priests. Fr Czernik says, 'The gift of prayer, which we offer for the Holy Father in the chapel, is an expression of our thanksgiving to the Holy Father for his great work of building justice and love in the world'. 'Taking the ramblers' routes in the Beskidy Range we often spoke that one of the greatest Poles had followed these routes many times before us', the family of Jakubowski recollected, 'Thus we wanted to mark his presence. We also desired that all people who walk in the mountains pray for the Holy Father'.
The dream of Danuta and Stefan Jakubowski has come true. Inhabitants of Andrychow and other local towns, tourists and pilgrims have prayed for the Polish Pope while taking the mountain routes of Karol Wojtyla, who at first came here with his father from the nearby town of Wadowice, and then alone as a student, priest and finally cardinal, Metropolitan of Krakow. They were also praying during the days of John Paul II's illness and death.
The chapel on Gron is a testimony of faith and deep attachment to the Holy Father, given by many people, originators, builders, founders and priests, who having been building the chapel dedicated to John Paul II, did not know, but already felt in their hearts, that some day there would be the place of prayers to the Servant of God John Paul II.