New Delhi: Approximately 2 million youths from 175 countries are expected to join Pope Francis in Krakow, Poland, from July 26-31, 2016 for the 31st World Youth Days (WYD), said Thomas Lukasuk, ambassador of the Republic of Poland, at a press conference here in New Delhi.
The WYD will conclude with a Mass by the Pope. The WYD will also mark the 1050th anniversary of the country’s acceptance of Christian faith.
Registration for the event will finish by the end of June. He said that participation in this mega ecumenical meet will help one know youths from other religions and other countries. This is the second time that the WYD will be held in Poland. Twenty-five years ago, it was held at Jasna Góra Sanctuary in Cz?stochowa, in which 1.5 million youngsters participated.
The Pope, who will arrive in Poland on July 27, will meet the President of the Republic, state officials and Polish bishops. In the evening, following a tradition started by Pope John Paul II and continued by Pope Benedict XVI, he will appear in the Papal Window of the Bishop’s House to address young people.
He will celebrate Mass to mark the 1050th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland on the defence shafts of Jasna Góra. The following day he will visit Auschwitz-Birkenau, the former German Nazi death camp. A visit to the Divine Mercy Sanctuary in ?agiewniki and the Chapel of Sister Faustina are also planned.
The Church has designated Saint John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta as the patron saints of the event. The previous WYD, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second most populous city, focused on the Beatitudes.
The Catholic Church organizes the triennial World Youth Day as a worldwide encounter of the youth with the Pope. Started in 1985 by Pope John Paul II, in the first WYD in 1986, bishops from all over the world were invited to schedule an annual youth event to be held every Palm Sunday in their dioceses. It is celebrated at the diocesan level annually, and at the international level every two to three years at different locations.
The 1995 World Youth Day closing Mass in the Philippines set a world record for the largest number of people gathered for a single religious event (with 5 million attendees). This record was surpassed 20 years later in the same country when 6 million attended a Mass with Pope Francis.
Apostolic Nuncio to India, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio (left) and Polish ambassador to India Thomas Lukasuk addressing the press conference
Apostolic Nuncio to India, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio described the event as “beautiful dialogue between young people and the Church.” The theme chosen is “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy,” in tune with the Year of Mercy now being observed throughout the Universal Church, he said.
The nuncio explained that Krakow was chosen as the venue of the world event since it is associated with two promoters of the Divine Mercy – Saints Maria Faustyna Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament, popularly known as Sr Faustina, and John Paul II.
Sister Faustina, who died in 1938 aged 33, was a Christian mystic. She claimed to have received apparitions of Jesus Christ that inspired the Catholic devotion to the Divine Mercy. She spent her final years in Krakow, the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland.
Her canonization process was launched in 1965 by the then Archbishop Karol Wojty?a of Kraków, who later became Pope John Paul II. The Pope beatified her in 1993 and canonized her seven years later.