Elizabeth Furiga: Toruń, Gingerbread Capital and So Much More

Toruń and gingerbread go hand-in-hand. The medieval city in Northern Poland has been known for its particular type of gingerbread, Toruńskie pierniki, since the Middle Ages. Today, pierniki is one of the most popular Polish food products both in Poland and abroad. The cookies come in several different distinct shapes. A popular variety is the katarzynka made of six circles joined together. The main and original pierniki factory, the Kopernik, has a store outside the town’s square where they sell everything from complex gingerbread “pictures” to chocolate-covered, jam-filled pierniki hearts.

But, Toruń has more to offer than just gingerbread. The city also features beautiful gothic architecture, museums, lively cultural events, and a great culinary scene. Having visited Toruń myself when I was in Poland, I can say that it is a city you will want to stop by if you take a trip to the homeland.

Although people often mistake Poland for a cold place, in the summer it gets quite warm, making for a great time to visit Toruń. The cafes and restaurants will put out the patio and outdoor seating, and you can drink wine and eat dinner outside on the square. When visiting Toruń, be sure to purchase some pierniki to take home with you, and also visit the Pierniki Museum where you can witness demonstrations of the gingerbread being made.

Toruń is also the home of the Polish astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus. You’ll want to visit the Copernicus house, a museum that is situated where Copernicus once lived.

In addition, you can tour the remains of the city’s medieval fortified walls and gates. Small sections still exist as well as the Leaning Tower, which was a fortified tower that made up the wall system.

You cannot fly in and out of Toruń easily, so it is suggested that you fly to Gdańsk or Warsaw and take a train or the Polski bus (the Polish Mega Bus) into the city. However, the sights and the experiences as well as the delicious pierniki are definitely worth the trip.

1,050 Years of Poland’s Christianity Celebration on the Campus of the Orchard Lake Schools

This year marks the 1,050th anniversary of Poland’s Christianity. It began in 966 with the baptism of Mieszko I, Poland’s first historically known king. At that time, Christianity was accepted as the religion of the Polish nation. This faith helped the Poles endure years of war, totalitarian oppression and martial law. Even in the last 50 years, Poland has experienced monumental change. “The gift of faith has been passed from one generation to the next and we, by God’s grace and providence, are the recipients of that 1,050-year faith tradition,” said Monsignor Thomas C. Machalski, Jr., Chancellor-Rector, Orchard Lake Schools.

On June 22, 2016, the anniversary celebration will commence on the grounds of the Orchard Lake Schools. Invited guests include the Papal Nuncio and Primate of Poland; all the Polish-American Bishops; the President, Vice President, Secretary-General and Episcopal Delegate for Poles in the Diaspora of the Polish Episcopal Conference and all members of Polonia throughout the United States. Plans are also underway for Archbishop Allen Vigneron, by official decree, to name the Orchard Lake Schools the Archdiocesan Shrine of St. John Paul II.

This historical and spiritual event, cosponsored by the National Polish Apostolate, the Orchard Lake Schools and the Polish American Priests’ Association, will begin with a Mass and General Procession for all. Guests are invited to come in their native costume with their society’s banner as a celebration of national pride.