Pope Francis has sent a message of greetings to the young people of Poland, one week before he visits Krakow for the 31st World Youth Day (WYD).
This year’s WYD, the Pope said, will focus on the Jubilee Year of Mercy, and on the “grateful and devoted memory of St. John Paul II, who was the initiator of the WYD, and the guide of the Polish people in their recent historical journey toward freedom.” In his own reflection on Polish history, he said: You are a nation that throughout its history has experienced so many trials, some particularly difficult, and has persevered through the power of faith, upheld by the maternal hands of the Virgin Mary.
“I am very anxious to meet you,” the Pope said, “and to offer to the world a new sign of harmony, a mosaic of different faces, from many races, languages, peoples, and cultures, but all united in the name of Jesus, Who is the face of Mercy.”
Pope Francis will travel to Krakow on July 27, meeting that day with political leaders and with the country’s bishops. On Thursday, July 28, he will travel to Czestochowa, to the beloved shrine of the Black Madonna, and celebrate Mass there. On Friday he will visit the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz. On Saturday, July 30, he will travel to the Divine Mercy shrine in Krakow, where he will hear confessions and celebrate Mass. That evening he will join the WYD participants in a prayer vigil. He will celebrate the closing Mass for WYD on Sunday before returning to Rome in the evening.