Pope Francis invoked the intercession of the Virgin Mary in preparation for Krakòw, asking “for the light of the Holy Spirit upon the journey that will lead us to this next stage in our joyful celebration of faith and the love of Christ.”
The decision to hold World Youth Day in Poland’s second largest city will come as no surprise to many. Blessed Pope John Paul II, a Pole who led the Archdiocese of Krakòw for some 15 years and the Universal Church for nearly 27, is soon to be canonized, becoming one of the country’s newest saints.
Not long before departing for WYD in Brazil, on July 4, 2013, Pope Francis confirmed his approval of Karol Wojtyla’s canonization, in a process initiated in 2005 under the pontificate of Benedict XVI.
The Polish pontiff will be canonized together with Pope John XXIII in a special mass expected to take place before the end of 2013.
Hundreds of thousands of Poles came to Rome to mourn their beloved pope in April 2005 after John Paul II’s death. They credit him with the downfall of the former communist regime and the resurgence of Poland’s Catholic identity.
A university city, Kraków is a major national academic and artistic centre whose old town was one of UNESCO’s first World Heritage sites. Situated on the banks of the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Krakòw has a population of approximately 760,000 but some 8 million people live within a 100 km radius of the centre.