“Do not be afraid (…) Open wide the doors to Christ!” Pope Francis recalled these words of St. John Paul II to the Poles in Rome for their National Pilgrimage, Oct. 20-23.
Following the pilgrim tradition, those who came to Rome prayed in the four Patriarchal Basilicas, entering through the Door of Mercy there. The highlight of the pilgrimage was meeting pope Francis in audience, on Saturday, Oct. 22, liturgical feast day of St. Pope John Paul II. The Holy Father, thanking them for his visit to Poland, said: “Once again I wish to express my gratitude to all of you—to the faithful, the priests, the bishops and the civil authorities—for the warm welcome in your country, the beautiful artistic and spiritual preparation of the events and celebrations that we lived with the enthusiasm inspired by faith.”
Furthermore, Pope Francis expressed this wish: “May the Lord give you the grace to persevere in the faith, hope and charity that you have received from your ancestors and to cultivate them with care. May your great compatriot’s call to rouse the imagination of mercy continue to resound in your minds and hearts, so that you manifest God’s love to all those who need it.”
After the audience, the Polish Bishops and representatives of the state authorities met with the Holy Father and personally expressed their gratitude for the visit to Poland and the cordial reception in the Vatican.
The last National Pilgrimage, in 2003, was intended to give thanks for the 25 years of St. John Paul II’s pontificate. This year’s pilgrimage was made to thank God for the most important events of 2016: the 1050th anniversary of Poland’s Baptism and the World Youth Day with Pope Francis’ visit to our country in the context of the Year of Mercy. Nearly 50 Bishops from Poland and from the Vatican, more than 250 priests and several thousands of Poles took part in this pilgrimage.
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Article done in collaboration with Fr. Paweł Rytel-Andrianik