World Youth Day pilgrims arriving in Krakow

Pilgrims from around the world are arriving in Krakow to take part in the almost week-long World Youth Day (WYD). On Wednesday, Poland will greet Pope Francis who will meet with young people and visit Jasna Gora shrine and Auschwitz.

World Youth Day is being held for the 31st time. According to the Organising Committee, some 356,000 people from 187 countries have confirmed their participation in the event. Apart from registered groups, organisers expect that many people will come to WYD spontaneously, especially for the meeting with the pope at Campus Misericordiae in Brzegi where the number of pilgrims may reach some 1.5 million people.

The Krakow meeting of young people is being held under the slogan „Blessed are the Merciful for they shall Obtain Mercy.” Monday and Tuesday are two days during which participants of WYD will have time to reach Krakow.

A mass, chaired by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz officially starting WYD, will begin at Blonie Park on Tuesday at 5.30 pm.

On Wednesday, a plane with Pope Francis on board will land at the Krakow-Balice airport at 4 pm. Later in the day, the pope will be officially welcomed in Poland by President Andrzej Duda and Polish bishops during a ceremony held at the Krakow Wawel Castle. In the evening, the pope will appear in the „papal window” to meet with young people. The latter event will take place on each day of the papal visit to Poland.

On Thursday morning in Czestochowa, Pope Francis, thousands of pilgrims as well as the Polish president, the PM and government representatives will take part in a national mass marking the 1050th anniversary of the baptism of Poland. Francis will return to Krakow at 5 pm. After receiving „keys to the city” he will take a tram ride together with a group of young disabled people to Blonie Park to welcome WYD participants.

On Friday, Francis, accompanied by the Polish PM, will visit grounds of the former Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau.

In the afternoon, the pope will meet with sick children and their parents at a children’s hospital in Krakow-Prokocim. In the evening, he will lead the Way of the Cross at Blonie Park.

On Saturday, Pope Francis will visit two adjoining sanctuaries in Lagiewniki where he will confess youth and celebrate a mass.

Later on, in tune with WYD tradition, the pope will eat a meal together with 12 young representatives – one boy and one girl from each continent and from Poland.

In the evening, Francis will arrive at Misericordiae Campus in Brzegi to take part in one of the main events of WYD – a prayer vigil.

Later into the night, the pope will return to his Krakow residence while young pilgrims will remain in Brzegi to wait for the Sunday events closing the World Youth Day.

On Sunday, Francis will attend a mass during which he is expected to announce the venue of the next edition of WYD. He will also meet organisers of the WYD 2016 and volunteers. In the evening, he will leave for Rome. (PAP)