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The Papal Trail

The Papal Trail the trail has been traced out by the Local Tourist Organization called  “Beskid Niski” (Low Beskid Mountains) in the Town of Krosno in cooperation with The Papal Trails Foundation.  This Papal Trail is based on routes of the counties of Krosno, Jasło and Sanok, from Magura Wątkowska to Komańcza.

The Trail is based on documents and reports of participants of pioneer expeditions of Priest Karol Wojtyla in the 50s of the past century. On May 16 of the 2006 year the Trail was opened and consecrated by Bishop Kazimierz Górny. Paving and marking out the trail as well as its popularization give the authors a sense of fulfillment The Holy Father John Paul the II’s will, who wished to commemorate all trails he walked through.

The trail runs through the southern areas of the Counties of Jasło, Krosno and Sanok, from Magura Wątkowska to Komańcza. It runs along the Red Trail of The Main Trail of Beskid Mountains and it is marked with plates showing directions and places of the Priest Karol Wojtyla’s old hikes.

Boards and plates with the whole network of the trail are located in places traditionally visited by pilgrims and tourists. Furthermore, they also show hiking sections that were unmarked. For that reason they are still some kind of challenge even to experienced and persistent hikers. The boards also show places of Priest Karol Wojtyla’s later stays on the Low Beskid Mountains and the Papal Pilgrimage in 1997.

Nowadays, tourists visiting The Low Beskid Mountains are not left alone to themselves, like it was in the past during the pioneering expeditions of Reverend Karol Wojtyla. Today, tourists and guests of this region can enjoy their stay in the agro-tourism farms, guesthouses and health resorts. Their addresses one can easily find in descriptions of trails or on the web sites of recreation centers, boarding houses, health resorts (called “sanatoria”) and agro-tourism farms on the Region of Low Beskid Mountains. This region id the lowest and most extensive part of The Beskid Mountains. Its main core is the Carpathian Ridge extends a length of 100 km from so called Tylicka Pass to the Lupkov Pass.

Throughout the history this land suffered from plundering and invasions of Hungarian army under command of King Mathias Korwin and Prince Rakoczi (older spelling Rakoczy). This area was also a witness of the historic Bar Confederation and the World War I, in which Karol Wojtyla’s father was taking part. During World War II in the region bloody battles for the Dukla Pass took place and after war also so called  “Akcja Wisła” (The Vistula Action) which have led to the displacement of Lemkov People. Today, numerous monuments, cemeteries and places of execusions are reminders of that tragic events in the past.

This mountains have also witnessed numerous excursions of the Rev. Karol Wojtyla. He was visiting Low Beskid in 1952 for the first time with a group of friends. Since that time, he was enchanted by this region, full of extraordinary landscapes with beautiful nature and silence. For this reason he returned to this area for a few times. The Low Beskid set itself in his memory and that’s why he mentioned about it in Rome while he was fulfilling his duty as a Head of The Roman Catholic Church as John Paul the II.

Here is the course of the trail and description of the locations that Rev. Karol Wojtyla walked through with the youth group, during one day of hiking: Magura Wątkowska 846 – Kolanin – Kąty via Kamień or Desznica – Chyrowa.

Mapa Szlak Papieski

Magura Wątkowska – a mountain range covered by forest, once with lots of glades was a place of grazing. Karol Wojtyla reached Magura Wątkowska for a first time as a Priest in 1952 and a year later on 13/14 of August 1953 on the slope of the mountain, a youth group with him set there its camp. In the morning of the eve of the Assumption of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, the Rev. Karol Wojtyla, who was called an “Uncle” by his friends, concelebrated a holy mass. The only chasuble he had was a double-sided white-green one, while according to the requirement of using chasubles, he should use a purple one. For this reason he celebrated so called “sung Holy Mass” in a white-green chasuble. This event is commemorated by the obelisk erected by the tourists of Jasło town, consecrated by the Rev. Bishop Kazimierz Górny on August 15, 2003.

Desznica -  a former village of Lemko People, located on the stream of Ryj, in the Kąty’s neighbourhood from the West. Here, in 1790 was erected the brick St. Dimitry Orthodox Church, which is now a parich church. Next to the church there is a World War I cemetery. From this place comes The Metropolitan of Halicz, the metropolitan of Greek Catholic/Uniat – Sylwester Sembratowicz (1836-1898). On September 6/7 1952 the Uncle’s group stayed overnight in Desznica and Rev. Karol Wojtyla performed the Most Holy Sacrifice. Basen on documents and reports of participants of pioneer expeditions of Priest Karol Wojtyla, the trail   was opened and consecrated by Bishop Kazimierz Górny on May 13 of  2006 year.

Kąty – the most distant village in the Wisloka river valley, inhabited by Poles. Its name appeared in old, historical written sources from 1398 year. The village is a tourist destination with well-developed agro-tourism. The Karol Wojtyla hiking route led through Kąty in  1952 and 1953. As a Pope John Paul The II, in a conversation with archbishop Nowak from Nowy Żmigród, he mentioned stay in Kąty, visiting Gryziec Family, as well as seeing the officers of SB (The Communist Secret Service).

The route of hiking is: Chyrowa - St. John of Dukla’s Hermitage - Cergowa 716 - Dukla – Lubatowa

Chyrowa – a small village over the Iwelka brook. In 1952 the “Uncle’s group” stayed in Chyrowa overnight for the first time. One year later the group set the camp near the church where on the next day in the morning Rev. Karol Wojtyla concelebrated a holy mass. An obeslisk erected in May 2005 by the tourists from Jasło still commemorate this event. More about Chyrowa you can find under link.

St. John of Dukla’s Hermitage – lies on the Zaspit’s Hill. The place was founded in 1769. Now the Hermitage includes a stone chapel from 1908, “a house of hermit” , and a cave with spring. According to the folk stories St. John of Dukla was born in 1414. In his youth he led a solitary lifestyle in this forest area near Zaspit’s Hill. In 1773 John of Dukla was officially beatified.  In a visitor’s book of the hermitage there is an entry by Rev. Karol Wojtyla, dated on September 8 1952 year, as follows: “ Let the St. John of Dukla deign to bless Karol Wojtyla, Janina Daniec, Jerzy Bukowski, Jan Kraus, Maciej Krobicki and Janusz Rieger”.  The photocopy of this entry is hanging on the wall in the interior of the chapel.

Dukla – is an attractive tourist small locality, received the town rights in 1380. In the past Dukla profited from its location near the main trade trail. Dukla was destroyed several times during the fights for Dukla Pass in September 1944. Some historical monuments in Dukla that survived fights are: The Church and Cloister of the Bernardine Monks – the place of St. John of Dukla relics preservation and a place of this Saint worship. Monuments of Pope John Paul II and St. John of Dukla, which are located at the foot of the monastery building complex. Also The Parich Church of Maria Magdalena and Palace and Park Complex of Mniszchów from the second half of XVIII century – nowadays the seat of Historical Museum in Dukla. Another example of preserved historical objects are military cemetery and ruins of the synagogue.

Rev. Karol Wojtyla visited this place in 1952, concelebrated the holy mass and stayed overnight. After becoming a cardinal he stayed in Dukla for some time in 1967 and then he visited St. John of  Dukla’s Hermitage and climbed to the top of  Cergowa and Peter summits. As a Pope he came to Dukla by a papamobile on June 9 of 1997, from the Łężany airfield. Before going to the Bernardine monastery to rest, he prayed and gave a speech at the tomb of St. John of Dukla after which he began to sing so called “Apel Jasnogórski” preyers (Preyer to Black Madonna od Częstochowa) and gave many blessings to the numerous faithful gathered. More information about this scenic location which is Dukla you can find here.

Cergowa 716 – the picturesque mountain on the slopes of which we can admire so called “Golden Well” – a place connected with the St. John of Dukla, visited for a few times by Pope John Paul II. Expedition to Cergowa, summit visible from Krosno, we recommend you as a one day trip, properly as not too tiring, longer walk in the woods, during which you can enjoy the closeness to nature, silence and fresh air.

Lubatowa – a village upon the Lubatovka river, mentioned in a historical location documents from 1376 year. In the middle of village there is a neo-gothic Church of St. Stanislav, erected in 1921. Next to the church is a special monument commemorating 38 inhabitants of village executed by Nazis army in 1944.
For the first time Karol Wojtyla passed through the village in 1952 as a priest. On August 1953 the youth “Uncle’s group” stayed overnight at local priest Rev. Stanislav Domino’s house and next morning Rev. Karol Wojtyla concelebrated a holy mass in the local church.

The route: Lubatowa – Iwonicz Zdrój – Rymanów Zdrój – Tarnawka

Iwonicz Zdrój - one of the oldest health resorts of the Carpathian region; its qualities were mentioned as early as in the 16th century. Iwonicz owes its fame to the  Zaluski Family, what is confirmed by a great number of historical objects, like for example: The Spa House ( Dom Zdrojowy ), Bazaar Villa (willa Bazar ), Mineral Baths ( Łazienki Mineralne ), The Old Palace (Stary Pałac), The Amelia and Charles Pavilions ( pawilon Amelia i Karol ) or the Belkotka Spring. Nowadays, Iwonicz has several modern sanatoriums and health institutions specializing in treatment of rheumatic diseases and musculoskeletar disorders, as well as the nervous, respiratory and digestive system disorders.  Rev. Karol Wojtyla walked the trail through the Iwonicz Zdrój in 1952 and 1953. More interesting facts you find here.

Rymanów Zdrój – is a health resort in the valley of the Tabor stream, founded by the family of Potocki. It was opened for public access in 1881. To our times some old spa buildings and boarding-houses have been preserved like for example: “Pogoń”, “Leliwa”, “Maria”, “Teresa” as well as and a wooden pump-room. There are several types of mineral water available here. Most of it contain sodium chloride oxalates with admixture of iodine and bromine, which are very helpful in the treatment of cardiovascular, respiratory, gastrointestinal, urinary and rheumatology disorders.
The largest healthcare object is sanatorium named “Eskulap”. The mineral water spring exploited by the spa is called Celestynka. Here in 1952 Rev. Karol Wojtyla stayed overnight and then celebrated a holy mass in a local church. In 1953 he also passed through Rymanów Zdrój and in 1957 camped here for a few days.

Tarnawka – in the past it was a village in the lower part of “Wisłoczek” brook. Unfortunately nowadays the village does not exist. The only historical proof of the village’s existence are the foundations of Wooden Orthodox Church with several damaged tombstones next to them. The population of village was displaced in April 1946 to Tarnopol region in Ukraine. The youth group with Rev. Karol Wojtyla crossed the village in 1952 and 1957. In the night from 10 to 11 of August 1953 they camped in Tarnawka.

The route: Tarnawka – Bukowica - Komańcza

Bukowica – a mountain range forming the north-eastern part of the Low Beskid Mountains (Beskid Niski), extending from the valley of Wisłok river from the West  to the valley of Osława and Osławica in the East. It is characterised by balanced line of mountain ridges with two culminations sticking out:  Skibce (776m) in the West and Tokarnia (779m) in the East, from which you can admire the beautiful views. At the foot of Bukowica is a large village called Bukowsko. The first mention of Bukowsko comes from the Act of King Casimir the Great of 1361. Particularly worthy of note is the antique neogothic church erected in 1886. Currently, the village is the seat of municipality and it is a convenient starting point for excursions into the Bukowica mountain range. On September 9 of 1952 a heavy rain forced the Rev. Karol Wojtyla with his hiking group to descend from the Bukowica mountains to the village of Bukowsko, where they stayed night before their further hiking tour to Komańcza. In 1953 Rev. Karol Wojtyla hiked the Bukowica range one more again.

Komańcza – an old settlement of foresters and railroad workers, established under the Wallachians’ law, lying on the border of the Bieszczady and Low Beskid Mountains, in the valley of Osławica river. In 1872 the construction of railway line connecting Budapest with Przemyśl was completed. The line was running through Komańcza and Lupkov Pass. That railway line was helpful in economic development of  Komańcza. A great tourist attraction in Komańcza are preserved churches: in the past Greek Catholic Church, now Orthodox Church of The Protection of the Mother of God from 1802 and Greek Catholic Church of The Intercession of Our Lady, moved from the Dydyńce village near Sanok, where it was standing abandoned for 40 years.
Next to the church there is Regional Museum of Lemko. Near the railway station was also erected The Parish Church of St. Joseph in the years 1940 to 1950. The church was built on the place of the previous one which was destroyed in 1939. In the Interwar Period in the side valley north of the village, were built some holiday boarding houses surrounded by forests. This place was so called “Komańcza Letnisko” – means Komańcza summer resort.

To the present day the guest house which survived is now the seat of convent of Sisters of Nazareth, in which from 29th  September 1955 to 26th September 1956 Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński was interned. During internment he wrote, inter alia, so called “Jasnogórskie Śluby Narodu Polskiego” (Jasna Gora Vows of the Polish Nation). The internment of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński is commemorated by the monument and the memorial chamber. At the monastery of Sisters of Nazareth stopped also Rev. Karol Wojtyla with his hiking group, for the first time at the night of 9 /10 August  1953. One of the sisters, wanted to do him a favor and cleaned the best ones shoes, thinking that this pair belonged to him. However, she soon found out that the best ones belonged to another member of the expedition.
In the morning Rev. priest Karol Wojtyla celebrated a holy mass in a monastery church. Next to the monastery there is a mountain shelter of Polish Tourist Society (PTTK).

Komańcza with its charm attracts tourists seeking peace and the beauties of nature. It is also a convenient starting point for the Low Beskid and Bieszczady hiking tours, in which may times participated Pope John Paul II. Through Komańcza he passed in 1956 when Cardinal Wyszyński was imprisoned there and then in the years 1957 and 1960.

The information comes from the website: www.podkarpackie.travel.pl