General facts about WYD: on the first night spent in Krakow, where Pope Francis arrived Wednesday, 27 July, he immediately entered into the atmosphere of celebration that is reigning in the city’s streets. After the institutional appointments that are common to each of his international trips, as the sun began to set, the Pontiff looked out the window of the Archbishop’s house — where he is residing during his stay in Poland — to greet the many young people who were there to repeat the tradition inaugurated by John Paul II, and continued by Benedict XVI during his visit in 2006, gathered by building n. 3 Franciszkańska St to wish the Pope a good night. He did not disappoint them.
For ten minutes he spoke to the thousands of gathered youth, which included a group of disabled pilgrims and orphans. While his words were translated into Polish, he recalled the sad story of the young volunteer who designed the banners, images of the patron saints and the pilgrim kit of this WYD, who died of cancer on 2 July last year at the age of 22. He asked them to commemorate him with an applause, and invited them to pray for him: first in silence and then with a Hail Mary. Finally, he urged them to “make noise”, bearing witness to the joy of being young Christians. Mixed feelings of joy and sadness permeated the hearts of the youth, some of whom had tear-stained faces.
Shortly before, Pope Francis spoke in a live video greeting the young Italians who were gathered in the Square before the St John Paul II Sanctuary, near to the Divine Mercy Sanctuary. This included twenty minutes of across the board dialogue, which took place live at the Archbishop’s house, and during which the Pope answered the questions of three young men who had offered their life testimonies on current issues: the tragic train accident in Puglia, bullying on social networks and the terrorist attack in Munich, Bavaria. It was, in short, a sneak peek of what will happen on Thursday afternoon, 28 July, at Błonia Park, where the Pope’s first encounter at the Polish WYD will take place: the welcoming celebration.
By Gianluca Biccini
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 21, 2019
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