RETREAT ON THE WAY
‘Mary as our Queen’ – this was the motto of the participants of the 306th Warsaw Walking Pilgrimage who has set off from the capital city to Jasna Góra this year. About 5 thousand pilgrims set off for a pilgrimage, but a lot of people joined during further stages.
The pilgrims set off, as usually, from the church under vocation of the Holy Spirit at Długa St. in Warsaw, after the Holy Mass which was celebrated for the pilgrims by bishop Piotr Jarecki – the Warsaw auxiliary bishop.
The history of the Warsaw Pilgrimage, which even at the most difficult times for Poles, goes to Jasna Góra every August, reaches back to the year 1711. It was initiated by Fr. Innocenty Pokorski – a Pauline Father. The tradition was not disrupted by partitions, the two world wars, chicanes of the communist authority. Even during the Warsaw Uprising, the Warsaw inhabitants set off to Częstochowa, but in small groups amounting to only a few people. When in 2011 the Warsaw Walking Pilgrimage was celebrating its jubilee of 300 years of existence, the participants brought a replica of a silver votive plaque to Jasna Góra, which had been gifted in 1711 by the first pilgrims, when vowing to the Image of Our Lady that they would make pilgrimages every year.
The route amounting to about 250 km has not changed much. Pilgrims go through Tarczyn, Grójec, Nowe Miasto at Pilica, visiting sanctuaries, among the others, in Święta Anna, where the Dominican Sisters prepare a nutritious soup in a cauldron of 300 liters each for them every year. In the sanctuary of St. Father Pio on the Hill Przeprośna Górka, from where one can see the cloister, there is the last stop before entering Jasna Góra.
Since the first pilgrimage, amounting to 20 men, outer forms of the pilgrimage has changed. – Before that every pilgrim had to have a haversack and mugs with him, which were buzzing like extra bells during kneeling down. Even today I hear the sound of falling mugs, but it was inscribed in the atmosphere of the pilgrimage – Fr. Melchior Królik, a Pauline Father, who has walked this route over 50 times, once mentioned in an interview with ‘Niedziela’.
Today the pilgrimage is not followed by solemnly decorated horse carts, as every group has got its precisely marked car for luggage. Connection via CB-radio makes the cars with food supply get to parking places on time. It is possible to join the pilgrimage on Internet, also thanks to their own websites, particular groups are in contact for the whole year.
There are some aims unchanged: bringing intentions in the heart, willingness to get separated from the everyday life in order to come closer to God and get our spiritual batteries charged, experience a retreat on the way. For many pilgrims it is an occasion for examination of conscience and the thorough confession. It happens that fiancées set off for a pilgrimage in order to contract a marriage. In chronicles of the Warsaw Walking Pilgrimage there are surnames of many people for whom the days from 6 to 14 August have been a holy time for dozens years, reserved for the Warsaw pilgrimage. Also this year people with their impressive pilgrim’s internship have taken part in the pilgrimage. Pilgrim effort of the participants of the Warsaw Walking Pilgrimage, as well as their enthusiasm and joy are encouragement and strengthening for others. Together with the 306th Warsaw Walking Pilgrimage, called the mother of all pilgrimages, its history and the testimony of Poles’ faith has walked Polish roads.