Pope Francis in Poland minute by minute
While in Poland, Pope Francis will participate in church mass at Jasna Gora, visit Auschwitz, hold meetings with disabled and ill people, and participate in World Youth Day.
We have known the preliminary programme of Pope Francis’ visit to Poland for three months now. Polish daily newspaper Rzeczpospolita was the first to cover the story in early March. On Thursday, the visit’s detailed plan – outlined minute by minute – was presented in Krakow and Warsaw.
The Holy Father arrives in Poland on Wednesday, 27 July. His plane is expected to land at Balice airport near Krakow at around 4 p.m. After a short welcome, the Pope will travel to Wawel castle for an official welcoming ceremony and a meeting with the diplomatic corps, followed by a meeting with Poland’s president and bishops. In the evening, the Pope will appear in the famous papal window of the Krakow curia.
The following morning, on 28 July, Francis will head to Czestochowa to celebrate mass to mark 1050 years since Poland’s baptism. Prior to that, he will ride among the faithful in an open car, and say a prayer in front of the painting of the Black Madonna of Czestochowa. In the afternoon, he is expected back in Krakow, where he will board a tram at around 5 p.m. and go to Błonia park in the company of disabled pilgrims. At Błonia, the Pope will be welcomed by young people gathered to celebrate World Youth Day.
On Friday, 29 July, the Pope is set to leave Krakow again, this time for Oswiecim, where he will visit the German Nazi extermination camp Auschwitz-Birkenau. “This part of the visit will be very private; it’ll be held in absolute silence and concentration,” said Bishop Artur Miziński, secretary-general of the episcopate. “The Holy Father is going to meet a group of former inmates, pray at the wall of death and in the cell of St Maksymilian’s martyrdom,” he adds.
In Birkenau, Francis will pray at the monument dedicated to the camp’s victims. After that he will meet a group of 25 Righteous Among the Nations, and deliver a short speech. Bishop Miziński underlines that it was the Pope’s express wish that Jasna Gora and the extermination camp be added to his itinerary.
The same holds true for a visit to the Children’s Hospital in the Krakow district of Prokocim. “The Holy Father will meet there with some of the most seriously ill patients, and will pray at the hospital chapel,” the bishop says.
In the evening, at 7 p.m., Francis is to lead the way of the cross at Błonia.
The next day, 30 July, will start with a visit to the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in the Krakow district of Lagiewniki. The Pope is set to pray at St Faustyna’s chapel, and cross the Gate of Mercy. He will also spend several minutes hearing the confessions of five people.
Another point of the papal programme is a visit to the nearby St John Paul II Sanctuary, where the Holy Father will celebrate mass at 10 a.m. for priests, seminarians and those consecrated. Following the service, Francis is to head to the curia for a lunch with young people, after which he will attend a prayer vigil at the Campus Misericordiae in Brzegi.
Brzegi will be also hosting the Pope on Sunday, 31 July. In the morning, Francis will celebrate mass to conclude World Youth Day WYD. Then he will meet the volunteers and organizational committee; he departs for Rome from Balice at around 6:30 p.m.
“The time for discussion is up; we proceed with the implementation,” said Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Apostolic Nuncio to Poland, commenting on the papal plans.
Work has already started at Błonia to erect the altar, with Brzegi expected to follow suit in a few days’ time. How many people will be able to meet the pope during the last days of July? According to Bishop Miziński, Jasna Gora fields can accommodate roughly 300,000. “But there surely will be more of us,” says the bishop.
WYD organizers in turn have announced that approximately 600,000 participants have registered to date. “We put the number of those who’ll attend the last mass at somewhere in the region of two million,” says WYD spokeswoman Dorota Abdelmoula.
“I have taken part in all WYDs so far, but I’ve never seen so much interest as this time round,” adds Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz.