Pilgrimage to Auschwitz-Birkenua, Poland, Part 1


“And though my windows got a view, The frame I’m looking through, Seems to have no concern for now, So for now, I need this, Old train to breakdown, Oh please, just, Let me please breakdown, This engine screams out loud.”


                                                                                                              -Jack Johnson

Add to playlist. Stop thinking. You are going there to remember – the heroic. This is an act of Mercy. Love triumphed.

I turned up, Spotify. I needed to stop the haunting images the clanging of the train was bringing to mind.  Images etched in my youthful memory from Eli Wiesel’s, Night.  Images from other pens came as well, but being older when those were lived- through the safety of the page- I had more maturity to process the confrontation with evil.

Dwell in the Good…I will dwell in the Good.

Auschwitz I

My Arrival

I had tried to get tickets online but was unsuccessful. I knew if Providence desired it, it would be- and so I trusted. The line was long. I was told to come back at six the next morning. Did he know how long the train ride was?  I smiled and explained my situation.

With an expressionless face but a glint in his eyes, his monotone voice spoke, “Auschwitz I is only open for you tomorrow, but Auschwitz II-Birkenau does not require a ticket. They will help you there.”

Well, this pilgrim did all she could. And, although I couldn’t get inside cell 18, block 11, the starvation chamber, where Saint Maximilian Kolbe, the Martyr of Love had died from lethal injection after volunteering to take the punishment of another prisoner, I had still made it just outside the barbed wire compound.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends.                   -The Gospel of John, Chapter 15

I took my moment right there. I prayed for my people; I once had carried them in my womb and now I carried them in my heart. I knew that they were dear to their namesake. I knew he could succeed in securing their difficult vocations.

I found the lamppost where the bus to Auschwitz II-Birkenau made its rounds to pick up the thousands of visitors who arrived everyday. As I waited, and wondered at God’s plan for me, I felt a nasty, gritty wetness hit me from above! Pigeon poop. There was the sign of God’s favor. Lucky me! Although, I prefer ladybugs landing on me as a heavenly lot, I got on the bus now knowing, I was where I was meant to be.

Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein

Come, Rosa, we go for our people.

Teresa took her sister’s arm, her brown habit blowing as her flag in the evening breeze, coming off the canals. The gestapo officer lead the two women to the truck ironically offering them his hand. Teresa, with the dignity of knowing her purpose, raised her hem just enough not to trip, and seated herself amongst her companions. Some of the faces she knew.  Mother had arrived to bring comfort. They began to pray the scriptures, “Hail Mary, full of grace…”


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