Ascending the mountains with Jan Pawel

The Tatra Mountains are seen through the fog May 28 in Poland. (CR/George P. Matysek Jr.)

ZAKOPANE, Poland – Even on a dreary, rain-filled day, few vistas are as spectacular as the Tatra Mountains in Southern Poland.

A 26-member Baltimore pilgrimage group, led by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski, made it to one of the mountain peaks via a cable car May 28 – catching glimpses of the snow-dotted terrain through raindrops and fog. It was the same route Blessed Pope John Paul II had taken during his 1997 visit to his homeland. In his youth, the Polish pope often hiked and skied in the Tatras.

A plaque commemorates Blessed John Paul II's 1997 visit to the Tatra Mountains. (George P. Matysek Jr.)

The resort station, which attracts visitors from throughout Europe and around the world, has numerous tributes to the late pope. A large plaque commemorates his 1997 visit, portraying the pope pointing his cane skyward to his beloved mountains.

When the pope was asked to write in the guest book during his visit, he wrote, “Benedicite montes dominum” – “You mountains, bless the Lord.”

He signed his name, “Jan Pawel II.”

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About George P. Matysek Jr.

George P. Matysek Jr. is the assistant managing editor of The Catholic Review in Baltimore. View all posts by George P. Matysek Jr.

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