Lesser Polish Way of St. James
The existing network of the polish trails of Saint James, fits also the Lesser Polish Way of St. James. It covers the areas of the historic district of the state of the first Piast,
(Province of Kraków and Sandomierz).
The routing refers to the medieval tract leading along the edge of the Vistula River valley, from Sandomierz to Kraków.
Santiago de Compostela is a city located in the north-western Spain, the capital of the region of Galicia. Since the discovery of the tomb of St. James Apostle the Greater by the hermit Pelagius in about 813, millions of faithful people began to traverse the continent, using the existing transport and trade roads, creating a network of trails which from the remotest corners of Europe led to the northern Spain. Most of them guided by the pure religious motives, but there were also those who were just curious to get to know the world, pushed by the desire of experience of the hardships of a long journey. Goethe wrote that on the pilgrimage routes to Santiago "Europe was born..." and the people mingled with a sense of belonging to the European Community, which then was represented by the Christian religion. At the same time it was the route along which the culture and architecture of the Romanesque were developing, spreading new ideas and achievements of the civilization of the Middle Ages.
There were a few pathways leading to the shrine of St. James. So-called French roads have been the most important since the ninth century, passing through the Pyrenean passes and converging in the town of Puente la Reina. From the place there was one common pilgrims trail called the Camino Grande.
The way of the pilgrims is designated by the shell of. St. James, whose "rays" converge at one point - at the hiking target, in addition a yellow arrow appears. The attribute of each pilgrim follower to Santiago is also a shell snapped on a backpack or worn around a neck, as well as a stick.
John Paul II used to speak about the great importance of the pilgrim road for Europe. He said: "From Santiago I'm directing to you - Old Europe - the crying full of love. Find yourself! Be yourself! Discover your origins. Liven up your roots..." In 1987, the Council of Europe established the first European Cultural Route. It appealed to the existing medieval routes to Santiago de Compostela. Signposts with a motif of the shell of St. James appeared initially in Spain and in the next few years in such countries as France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. In 1993, the pilgrimage road to Santiago in Spain, and in 1998 the route in France, were included in the UNESCO list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage of Humanity.
The archival sources and archaeological discoveries made in different parts of Poland prove that Poles also pilgrimaged to the tomb of St. James. We know dozens of Polish pilgrims who were registered in Spanish documents.
In 2005 Poland joined the countries where Jacob's trails were marked. Currently in our country there are 24 sections of St James Road. The most famous ones are among others: Lower Silesian Way of St. James, the Polish Way (Camino Polaco), the Way of St. James Via Regia, Pomeranian Way of St. James, Lesser Poland's Way of St. James, Beskid Way of St. James and Warsovian Way of St. James. Currently the Way of St. James is the longest marked trail pilgrimage, and also the longest cultural and thematic trail in Poland. In total, between the years 2005 and 2015 over 5,200 km of marked sections of the Camino de Santiago were prepared for the pilgrims in Poland.
Lesser Polish Way of St. James is a part of the existing Polish network of St. James trails. It covers the areas of the historic district of the state of the First Piasts (the Province of Krakow and Sandomierz) and refers to the medieval tract leading along the edge of the Vistula River Valley from Sandomierz to Krakow. This route was one of the branches of the so-called Russian route leading from Polesie and Ruthenia to the capital of the Crown and Silesia.
The project to reconstruct Lesser Polish Way of St. James from Sandomierz to Krakow was established in June 2007, during a meeting of people from Krakow, Sandomierz and Tarnobrzeg who had pilgrimaged to Santiago de Compostela. Some people and institutions such as: the members of the Brotherhood of St. James Apostle in Old Wiêc³awice, the mayors and employees of the Municipality in Pa³ecznica and Micha³owice participated in the work associated with the demarcation and marking the Lesser Polish Way of St James. Valuable assistance and guidance were also obtained from the authorities of the cities of Sandomierz, Staszów, Busko-Zdrój, Skalbmierz, S³omniki and Kraków as well as from the authorities of the municipalities of Czarnocin Klimontów, Kocmyrzów-Luborzyca, Koniusza, Radziemice, Szyd³ów, Wiœlica, Zielonki and Z³ota.Ma³opolska Droga œw. Jakuba jest jednym z ponad dwudziestu polskich odcinków Camino de Santiago.
The most important of the demarcation of the main points of Lesser Polish Way of St James was the distribution of the churches of St. James Apostle, located on a clear, continuous line from Sandomierz via Kotuszów, Szczawory¿, Probo³owice, Pa³ecznica, Niegardów, Wiêc³awice Stare, Kraków and further via Sanka, Palczowice to Bestwina. According to some historians, the short distances between the towns confirm the existence of Lesser Poland's Pilgrimage Route to the tomb of St. James the Greater in Santiago de Compostela in the Middle Ages. Medievalists emphasize that these temples could perform the rank of station churches. Their location in close proximity to each other (not exceeding 30 km stretch of Sandomierz-Krakow) allowed to walk the consecutive road segments in one day. The length of Lesser Polish Way of St James from Sandomierz to Szczyrk is 317 km.
So, the same as the pilgrims greet on the Way of St. James, we also wish You All Buen Camino! - Good Way!
We appeal to all residents to open their homes and hearts to pilgrims, and when they lose the trail help them to find the way, saying a good word of consolation and encouragement to continue the pilgrimage.
Ready to welcome the pilgrims, we ask you to mark your houses with a shell of St. James, which can be obtained from Diocesan Shrine of St. James Apostle in Wiêc³awice Stare.
All the necessary information about Lesser Polish Way of St James is posted on the following websites: www.caminogalicja.pl
Bractwo św. Jakuba w Więcławicach Starych
tel. kom. +48 664 329 302
Below the current version of the Lesser Polish Way of St James is shown, marked by number 1.