Pilgrims flock to Kraków for World Youth Days
PR dla Zagranicy
Pilgrims from around the world are arriving in the southern Polish city of Kraków for the Roman Catholic Church’s World Youth Days, which formally start on Tuesday.
Pilgrims gather at Brzegi, east of Kraków, one of the main venues of World Youth Days. Photo: PAP/Grzegorz Momot
Over 357,000 people from 187 countries have registered online but far more are expected - religious services and meetings with Pope Francis are open to all those wishing to take part.
Organizers predict that up to 1.5 million people are likely to attend the main events of World Youth Days - a night vigil with the pope on Saturday and an open-air mass celebrated by the pontiff on the last day, Sunday 31 July.
The theme of the event is “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.”
Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz of Kraków has told journalists that he hopes for a change of atmosphere in Europe and the world.
Sense of brotherhood
“The tragic events of recent days have created divisions among people. In these circumstances, the get-together of young people in Kraków is doing something entirely different – it builds unity, creates a community and a sense of brotherhood,” he said.
Among the many foreign statesmen expected to attend World Youth Days is President Juan Carlos Valera from Panama. He is coming to Poland with a large group of bishops and over 500 young people.
Panama to host next WYD?
According to unconfirmed reports, Panama is to be named the venue of the next World Youth Days, in 2019. Roman Catholics account for two-thirds of the population of that Central American state.
Some 700 soldiers from Poland and ten other countries, including the United States, France, Spain, the Baltics and New Zealand, are among the participants in World Youth Days.
Before heading to Kraków on Wednesday, they have been touring Warsaw and visiting the southern Black Madonna shrine of Częstochowa and the former Nazi German concentration camp of Auschwitz.
The group includes field bishops from the French and Austrian armies.
Almost 5,700 journalists will be covering World Youth Days. A press centre with 700 stands is located at the University of Science and Technology in Kraków.