Despite the heavy rain, pilgrims from all over the world, gather to sing and dance at the Blonia Meadows in Krakow, on July 26, to celebrate the Opening Mass on the first day of the World Youth Day.
St. John Paul II's former secretary urged young Catholics to share their faith, experiences and hopes and spread a "message of divine mercy" worldwide during World Youth Day.
"We come from every nation under heaven, like those who came in great numbers to Jerusalem on Pentecost Day, but there are incomparably more of us now than 2,000 years ago, because we are accompanied by centuries of preaching the Gospel," Krakow Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz said during the July 26 opening Mass.
"We bring experience of various cultures, traditions and languages. But what we also bring are testimonies of faith and holiness of our brothers and sisters, followers of the risen Lord, of past generations as well as the current generation," he said.
The cardinal preached to an estimated 200,000 pilgrims from 187 countries in Krakow's Blonia Park, a day before the scheduled arrival of Pope Francis.
He said that Krakow was the city from where St. John Paul "set off to preach the Gospel," as well as where St. Faustina Kowalska helped spread devotion to Divine Mercy worldwide in the 20th century.
"You have come from all continents and nations, from the East and West, North and South of our globe," said Cardinal Dziwisz, who was personal secretary to St. John Paul for 39 years.
"You bring with you many experiences. You bring many desires. You speak numerous languages. But starting today, we are going to communicate with each other in the language of the Gospel — a language of love, brotherhood, solidarity and peace."
Up to 2 million young people were expected to attend World Youth Day July 26-31. Nearly 50 cardinals, 800 bishops and 20,000 priests from around the world also were to attend.
The opening Mass was partially disrupted by heavy rain, which forced the temporary closure of Krakow's airport. The Mass site featured giant portraits of Sts. John Paul and Faustina by the main altar.
Source: Catholic News Service