VATICAN CITY — The Vatican released on Saturday a provisional schedule of Pope Francis' visit to Poland for World Youth Day. He will be in the central European nation July 27-31.
The Pope will arrive at Krakow-Balice airport July 27. He will meet with President Andrzej Duda and the nation's bishops. Later in the day, he will meet with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow and greet the crowds from a window used often by St. John Paul II.
On July 28, the Pope is scheduled to visit Czestochowa, the home of the monastery of Jasna Gora, which holds an icon of a Black Madonna, the patroness of Poland. While there, he will say Mass for the 1,050th anniversary of the baptism of Poland.
Francis will visit Auschwitz July 29 and later celebrate the Way of the Cross in Krakow. Auschwitz is the site of a Nazi death camp that is roughly 40 miles from Krakow. At least 1.1 million people died in the camp during its years of operation, 1940-1945, including St. Maximilian Kolbe.
On July 30, Pope Francis will visit the Divine Mercy Shrine in Krakow, passing through its holy door and visiting the nearby chapel where St. Faustina Kowalska is buried. St. Faustina, a 20th-century nun, had visions of Christ upon which the Chaplet of Divine Mercy is based. While there, the Pope will say Mass with priests, religious and seminarians, hear confessions and lunch with some youth. That evening, he will participate in the World Youth Day prayer vigil.
The Pope is to say Mass for World Youth Day on July 31 and later meet with the organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the event. He will depart for Rome that evening.
St. John Paul II instituted World Youth Day in 1984 to bring together young people to pray and worship and to celebrate their Catholic faith. The events are held every few years and have drawn crowds of up to 5 million people.
Some 2.5 million are expected to attend the event in Krakow.