Saturday, August 11, 2007

polish-canadian pilgrimage to midland

For centuries, pilgrims have set out from every part of Poland in the month of August, converging on the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa for the Feast of the Assumption, August 15th. From the way it was described to me a couple of weeks ago by Wanda Sawicki, the event is in the vein of a romeria, a mobile summer picnic and festival involving whole families and communities.
Since Pope John Paul II's 1984 visit to Canada, the tradition has been transplanted to Southern Ontario, as Polish-Canadians put on their hiking shoes and hit the road for Canadian Martyrs Shrine in Midland. According to the shrine's website, 8000 to 9000 pilgrims are expected this weekend. Does anyone out there have a personal account of the journey, or details about the logistics? (how many miles do you cover in a day? what happens along the way? where do you sleep and eat?) If so drop us a line. It would be great to know more about this local pilgrimage.

1 comment:

Bill Cornelius said...

I have been walking this pilgrimage for the past five years with a group from Guelph, Ontario. We walk for eight day, covering roughly 110 miles. Distance each day varies. We camp out each night, except for one when we stay at a retreat house. All our equipment and supplies are transported between strops by van and/or car. Along the way we meet other groups from surrounding areas. Finally, we join the Polish group from Toronto for the last three nights. They number about 800. When we walk into the Shrine of the Canadian Martyrs in Midland, Ontario, we are about 1000 strong. Our journey is a spiritual renewal. Our group probably sets aside more silent time than the others. I have additional information. Unfortunately, I am off tomorrow to walk the Via Francigena to Rome. I will be gone six weeks. If you like I can provide additional data then.