DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     June 18-20, 1999     vol. 10, no. 118


On-going coverage of the Holy Father's marathon trip to his homeland

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Reminisces with Crowd about Days of His Youth

          WADOWICE, JUN 17 (ZENIT).- Yesterday, there was great excitement when John Paul II arrived in Wadowice, his birthplace, where he returned as Pope for the third time. Addressing thousands of youths, who were crowded in the market square, the Holy Father allowed himself to be swept up by the enthusiasm and, for forty minutes was enthralled by an explosion of memories, humorous phrases and the nicknames of those he knew. He started by saying, "My institute was on Mickiewicz street," and he gave thanks because on that very street, a home for single mothers has been opened, carrying his own mother's name: Emilia.

          "Farther down, in Sokol circle, my classmates and I would put on plays ... Halina was also there," his closest classmate who has become a great actress. The crowd was thrilled, as the Pope recalled the names of streets, squares, and people of his time. "My friend Jurek Kluger was there, and there was a bookstore there, is it still there?"

          The youths cried, "Magnificent, you are magnificent!"

          "On that corner there was a pastry shop, and it made fantastic cream pastries ... how many we ate after the entrance examination," he said from his papal throne in front of the parish church. The Pope laughed, enveloped in nostalgia. "How many memories come to mind. Everything began here: life, school, theater and priesthood."

          "Stay with us, come back here!" the youth cried.

          "My house was owned by a Jew. Many Jews of Wadowice suffered incidents during the war and there were those who ended up in extermination camps," the Pope said in a grave voice.

          The appointment with Wadowice was a long good-bye filled with emotions. Good-bye to the home of his birth; to the parish church, where he stopped to pray; good-bye to the convent where he had his first intense mystical reflections. "Keep praying for me," the Holy Father murmured and later hearing the cries of well-wishers he exclaimed: "You wish me to arrive to the age of one hundred ... may it be God's will."

          The youths were enthralled and asked the Pope to keep telling them stories. "When I was at the Institute, we recited Sophocles," the Holy Father obliged. "Halina was Antigone and I was Ammon."

          "You are great!" they shouted. "More, more."

          The meeting ended with a choral section of a song written for the Pope: "Wadowice, your city, your beloved home," while everyone in the Square waved banners and the band played. ZE99061708


Visits Parents Graves in Krakow

          KRAKOW, JUN 17 (ZENIT).- The Pope's seventh pilgrimage to Poland moved slowly from the dynamism of news reports to the recollection of treasured memories -- both his own, and that of his countrymen, more than 8 million of whom came to pray with him in the remotest corners of the country. Krakow today was the last stage before his return to Rome.

          The day began at 7:30 a.m., with John Paul II's arrival at Krakow's Wawel Cathedral. The Sigmund bells, the largest in Poland, tolled on his arrival. In this cathedral, where saints, sovereigns, national heroes, and poets are buried, John Paul II celebrated Mass at the altar of Saint Stanislav. A thousand people attended, among them the students of the Major Seminary, upon whom he invoked the gifts of the Holy Spirit for their priestly vocation.

          Before the Mass, the Holy Father said: "I praise God because I was able to take part in this great spiritual heritage, especially as Bishop of Krakow. Because of this wealth I have been able to obtain strength and inspiration as Bishop of Rome."

          After a brief visit to the cemetery to pray at the tombs of his parents and his brother, who died in his youth, the Holy Father went to Czestochowa to pray before the ancient icon of the Black Madonna, a favorite place of pilgrims, especially Poles, who bring their personal, family and great national problems to the shrine, a stop that was not included in the Pope's original itinerary. The Pope was welcomed by the religious who have been custodians of the shrine for almost 600 years, and by some 800,000 persons from the surrounding areas. In his greeting to the pilgrims, John Paul II said the shrine of Jasna Gora could not be missing from his pilgrimage, and he entrusted every one of his countrymen to the Mother of God, Queen of Poland. ZE99061722


          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- Pope John Paul II appeared to have recovered completely from a bout with the flu as he enjoyed an informal session of bantering with natives of Wadowice, his native village, on Wednesday evening, June 16.

          "I think of this town of my youth with great emotion," the Pontiff said, addressing a large crowd outside the little baroque church were he worshiped as a child. Arriving in the Popemobile, John Paul was greeted with shouts of "Welcome home!" and "We love you!"

          "This is where it all began," the Pope said; "my life, school, studies, the theater, the priesthood." The crowd responded by bursting into the traditional Polish song "Sto Lat"-- "May you live 100 years." In a self- deprecating allusion to his own frailty, the Pope replied, "That's easy to sing, but not so easy to do!"

          The Pope then delighted the crowd by reciting some verses from a Antigone, a play he had performed during his student years, and reciting the names of the other members of the cast. "I wish I could explore all the old corners of this town," he said.

          After a long informal session with the crowd, the Pope appeared a bit surprised-- and even embarrassed-- when aides reminded him that it was time for a formal ceremony in the parish church. He then solemnly crowned an image of the Virgin Mary, and exhorted the people of Wadowice to pray constantly to the Blessed Mother, since such prayers "never go without an answer."

          Returning to the archbishop's residence in Krakow, where he would spend the night, the Pope was greeted by a group of young people who cried out, "Long live the Pope!" Again he joked at his own expense, saying, "You're right; I'm still alive."


          VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- On June 17, the last day of his visit to Poland, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass in the Krakow cathedral where he was ordained, consecrated as a bishop, and installed as archbishop.

          After Mass, the Pope visited the cemetery where his parents and his brother Edmund are buried, then headed for the Marian shrine at Czestochowa, where hundreds of thousands of Poles waited to greet him as he arrived to venerate the famous Black Virgin. After kneeling in prayer for some time before the 14th-century image, the Pope addressed the crowd, saying, "This sanctuary… could not be omitted from the itinerary of my pilgrimage to my native land." (The Pope had made an unanticipated change in his schedule in order to visit the shrine.) "I want to thank the Mother of Christ for her protection during these days of my pastoral service to the Church of my country; I want to thank her for the spiritual and material benefits she has brought to Poland."

          On the way to Czestochowa, the Pope made a short detour to Gliwice, in Silesia, the town he had been unable to visit on June 15, when he was confined to bed with the flu. Although the news of his impending visit was broadcast on the radio only a few hours before he actually arrived, a huge crowd gathered to greet him there. "I know that the people of Silesia will pardon me" for being sick, the Pope said. "Now I am going to ask for pardon at Czestochowa, and then I can return to Rome in peace."


          VATICAN CITY, 17 (NE) Visibly recovered from the light fever that made him suspend all his public activities yesterday, Pope John Paul II met yesterday people gathered in Stary Sacz, 70 miles away from Krakow, where he canonized blessed Kinga, daughter of King Bela IV of Hungary, who lived during the XIII century. The President of Hungary was also present in the ceremony.

          Cardinal Franciszek Macharski, Archbishop of Krakow, read the Pope's homily. In it the Pope stated the urgent need for saints in today's world, people that "nourish the spiritual growth of each man, with the influence of their goodness, their fidelity to the teachings of Christ and the witness of their daily life."

          "Today's world needs the sanctity of Christians, who assume their own daily duties in the ordinary conditions of familiar and professional life; people who, wishing to accomplish the will of the Creator and serve each day, respond to His eternal love."

          The Pope visited during the afternoon his native Wadowice, approximately 30 miles away from Krakow. In Wadowice the Pope recalled with emotion the years he spent there. He also addressed with beautiful words the people there, especially those present that had been the Pope's schoolmates. He later visited the temple where he was baptized, near the house where he was born. As he addressed the inhabitants of Wadowice, he also thanked that a health center for pregnant women had the name of his mother.

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 18-20, 1999       volume 10, no. 118


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