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From Poland to Fatima on foot with no money

Jakub Karłowicz przeszedł ponad 5 tysięcy kilometrów, wędrując z Łomży do Fatimy

fot. arch. prywatne Jakuba Karłowicza / źródło: Pod Opieką Boga | Facebook

Agnieszka Bugała - published on 04/18/23

221 days, 3,500 miles, 10 countries, carrying a rosary in hand – that’s quite a pilgrimage to make on foot, but this young man pulled it off!

221 days, 3,500 miles, 10 countries, carrying a rosary in hand – that’s quite a pilgrimage to make on foot. Jakub Karlowicz, a 23-year-old man from northeastern Poland and a barber by profession, reached the shrine in Fatima on February 24.

He offered his pilgrimage and constant prayer on the way for peace. Since the beginning, his trust-filled trek could be followed on his Facebook page, Under the Care of God, viewed by thousands of people every day.

Under God’s care

He set out on July 17, 2022. He didn’t take food or extra clothing for the journey, nor did he take money or credit cards. He entrusted his pilgrimage to Mary, and placed it under the patronage of St. John Bosco, whose slogan, “a sad saint is no saint,” is close to his heart.

He believed he was walking “under God’s protection” and didn’t worry about what he would eat or where he would lay his head to sleep. During the 221 days of his pilgrimage, he never went hungry and never ran into situations that could convince him to turn back. On the contrary, every day, in every country and in the smallest village he visited, he experienced tremendous selfless kindness, hospitality, and support.

In one of the videos posted on social media, he recalled a situation in a French province when an expensive BMW suddenly stopped, and masked men got out and opened the trunk – it turned out that they had a large bag of food in there. Touched, he stressed that these men, who sound more like something from a movie than reality, provided him with food for three days.

People are good

Throughout the pilgrimage, he benefited from the hospitality of parishes and monasteries, but also of people who invited him to their homes, let him use the washing machine, fed him, and even took him to sportswear stores so he could buy new things to replace those damaged or worn out by the trek.

People not only opened their homes and pantries to him, giving him provisions for the road, but also donated money. Sometimes he was able to earn money by offering his services as a barber, cutting hair or shaving beards. Jakub carried his clippers and other equipment with him everywhere.

What he considered most important on each day of the pilgrimage was the opportunity to attend Mass and adoration. The Rosary, which he says is “the most effective weapon in the world,” accompanied him constantly. Each mile he walked meant more “Hail Marys” prayed – for peace in the world, for people close to him, and for those he met during the pilgrimage.

In the reports he posted on the way, he stresses that people are good. They are sometimes lost, or sometimes God is “lost” to them, but they are good and want good, not evil.

The route from Poland to Fatima

His path was defined by points of religious significance. From Sejny (in northeastern Poland, near Lithuania and Belarus), he went to Niepokalanow, a religious community founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe, then Jasna Gora, the monastery that houses the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa. Then, heading through Slovakia, Hungary, and Bosnia, he set off for Medjugorie. He stood at the site of Mary’s purported apparitions on September 12, her name day. From there he crossed Croatia and Slovenia and headed to Venice.

He crossed Italy quite smoothly, stopping in Turin – which was admittedly not on the way to Fatima, but Jakub couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the relics of St. John Bosco, the patron saint of his pilgrimage. From Turin he headed north, risked crossing the Alps and reached the site of Marian apparitions in La Salette.

From there he turned to the south and the border between France and Spain. Covering more miles and experiencing Spanish hospitality, he finally reached the Spanish-Portuguese border. Each day he walked between 20 and 30 miles.

What next?

Jakub is still on the road! After reaching his destination, on February 26 he wrote, “I intend to return home on foot, if it’s in accordance with God’s will.” He wanted to visit more Marian shrines and places associated with the Church’s saints along the way. His aim is to reach home during vacation and take part in a pilgrimage from Suwałki to Vilnius. But he doesn’t intend to rush.

“This is not a pilgrimage that’s just about walking and going the distance. So far I haven’t been in a hurry. Above all, it’s about experiencing God’s protection and about the people whom the Lord God puts on my path. (…) The Lord God can use everyone, no matter what kind of sinner they are, what kind of past, education, job they have. (…) Hail Mary!”  he writes, thanking all his supporters with a prayer.

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