40 years since historic visit of Pope John Paul 2
PR dla Zagranicy
June 2nd sees the 40th anniversary of a first historic trip by Polish Pope John Paul 2nd to his home country.
An open-air exhibition dedicated to the first trip of Pope John Paul 2nd to Poland, on June 2–10 czerwca 1979, launches in the courtyard of the Royal Castle in Warsaw. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka
This was the first ever visit of a Pontiff to Poland and also the first visit of the head of the Roman Catholic church to a country in the communist bloc.
The trip, which lasted from June 2 to 10, 1979, took in Warsaw, Gniezno, Częstochowa, Wadowice (Karol Wojtyła's birthplace) and Kraków, among others, and included a meeting with the head of state at the time, First Secretary of the Polish United Workers' Party Edward Gierek.
More than 2 million people took part in a mass led by the Pope in Kraków. Words spoken by John Paul 2nd at the mass in Warsaw, ("Let your Spirit descend! Let your Spirit descend! And renew the face of the earth. The face of this land!") were received as a call for change.
The words have come to symbolize an initiation of the democratic transformations which later took place in Poland as a year after the first papal pilgrimage, the Solidarity trade union appeared.
The second visit of Pope John Paul 2nd was in 1983 and in conditions of a suspended martial law in Poland.
The highlight of the celebrations of the anniversary is a giant multimedia show this Sunday evening in Warsaw, featuring a concert combined with quotes from the Pope's speeches and archival documentary footage. The concert ends with the unfolding of a 100-metre long Polish flag, first used on Poland's 100th independence anniversary on November 11th. Between June 2 and 10th, a series of special anniversary concerts will be held in the localities visited in 1979 by Pope John Paul 2nd, accompanied with exhibitions of photographs from the time.
Sunday's concert is broadcast live by Polish Radio One.
Source: IAR, PAP