Poland's history of martyrs and more will be on his mind...
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ upcoming apostolic voyage to Poland will have two principal aspects — World Youth Day in Krakow and a visit to Auschwitz and Częstochowa — and will be closely linked to the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
This was according to Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, in a briefing to journalists Wednesday on the Holy Father’s July 27-31 visit — his 15th trip outside Italy and his first ever to Poland.
Some of the highlights of the apostolic voyage to Poland mentioned by Fr. Lombardi will be a visit by the Pope to where Pope St. John Paul II celebrated his first Mass, in a crypt under Krakow’s cathedral — a sign of John Paul’s spiritual relationship to his country’s people and history; a welcoming ceremony for World Youth Day in Krakow, where Pope Francis will arrive in an “ecological tram” with a group of handicapped young people and receive the keys of the city; and a meeting with 10 survivors of the Auschwitz extermination camp.
The pope will land in Krakow, Poland at 4pm local time on Wednesday, July 27. There will be no discourse at the welcoming ceremony as the Pope will speak to civic leaders and the diplomatic corps in the Wawel courtyard one hour later.
He will then make a courtesy visit to the President of the Republic in the Hall of Birds of Wawel Palace where there will be an exchange of gifts. This will be followed at 6.30pm by a visit to Krakow cathedral where the Pope will meet Polish bishops and visit the crypt of St. Leonard where John Paul II celebrated his first Mass. Father Lombardi recalled the chapel as being a place of great “spiritual intensity” when John Paul II celebrated the Holy Mass there in 1991.
The following day, the Pope will travel 100 km by helicopter to Częstochowa, visit the Monastery of Jasna Gora, and pray at the Chapel of the Black Madonna. At 10.30 am he will celebrate Mass on the occasion of the 1050th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland in the area near the Shrine of Częstochowa, before transferring back to Krakow in the early afternoon to attend a welcoming ceremony by the young people at Jordan Park in Kraków’s Błonia.
On Friday, July 29, the Pope will again take a military helicopter, this time to Oswięcim where he will spend two hours visiting Auschwitz, followed by the Birkenau Concentration Camp. The Pope is expected to pray silently in the square and pray in the cell where St. Maximilian Kolbe offered his life for a fellow prisoner. This year, on July 29, exactly marks the 75th anniversary of his death.
By noon, the Pope will be back in Krakow where he will visit a children’s hospital and deliver an address. He will then lead a Way of the Cross with young people at Jordan Park in Kraków’s Błonia and deliver an address.
Saturday, 30 July, will be devoted to the Divine Mercy. There will be a rite of reconciliation for people at the Divine Mercy Shrine. This will be followed by a meeting with priests, religious and seminarians in St John Paul II Shrine in Kraków.
After lunch with some young people in the archiepiscopal residence, the pope visit to Campus Misericordiae and pass through the Holy Door with some young people. At 7.30pm, he will lead a prayer vigil with the young people in Campus Misericordiae.
On Sunday, July 31, the final day of the papal trip, the Pope will celebrate Holy Mass on the occasion of the World Youth Day in Campus Misericordiae and recite the Angelus. He will then meet with WYD volunteers and organizers and there deliver a discourse.
After a farewell ceremony at Balice-Kraków airport, Pope Francis will leave for Rome at 6.30pm local time, arriving in Rome around 8.30pm local time.
Diane Montagna is Rome correspondent for Aleteia’s English edition.