World Youth Day Kraków 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - Sunday, July 31, 2016

  • Tuesday, July 26, 2016 - Sunday, July 31, 2016
  • Field of Mercy, Trakt Ojca Świętego Franciszka, Brzegi
  • Błonia Common, al. Focha / al. 3 Maja / ul. Piastowska
  • Main Market Square
  • Palace of the Bishops of Kraków, ul. Franciszkańska 3
  • Small Market Square
  • The Main Building, al. 3 Maja 1
  • Com Com Zone – Nowa Huta, ul. Ptaszyckiego 6
  • Jan Nowak-Jeziorański Square
  • TAURON Arena Kraków, ul. Lema 7

Make a Commotion!

Prayers on the Błonia meadows, confessionals at the Jordan Park, music at the Main Market Square and the Szczepański Square, exhibitions at museums and in urban spaces, dances, performances and spectacles in city squares, roundabouts and green spaces… In late July, hundreds of thousands of young people flock to Kraków to bear witness to their faith and meet Pope Francis.

Following the wishes of the initiator, Pope John Paul II, the latest event is based on a Biblical thought recalling the spirituality of the host city. The theme of the 31st World Youth Day Kraków 2016 (26-31 July 2016) are the words “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Mt 5,7); it must be said that these words, uttered by Jesus by the Sea of Galilee, have a special significance in the city of St Faustina, Brother Albert and St John Paul II.

Central celebrations

The official part of WYD starts on the Błonia meadows on 26 July with a holy mass celebrated by the Archbishop of Kraków Stanisław Dziwisz. During the evening meeting with young people, the host of WYD Kraków 2016 will be introduced. Between 27 and 29 July, before noon, pilgrims assembled in Kraków’s churches, sports halls and city squares will hear readings by bishops in over thirty languages. The meetings will be open to all Cracovians and tourists. More special readings will be delivered during the pilgrimage to the Gates of Mercy at the sanctuaries of St John Paul II and the Divine Mercy. The latter will be the site of the largest of the three peace zones, with the others situated at the Jordan Park next to the Błonia meadows and at St Mary’s Church at the Main Market Square. St Mark’s Church in the heart of the city holds silent adorations of the Holy Sacrament every day from morning until late evening.

On 28 July, young people gathered at Błonia welcome Pope Francis; the Holy Father continues the local tradition of evening meetings by appearing at the “papal window” at the Archbishop’s Palace. The main celebrations in the city centre culminate at Błonia in the evening of 29 July with the Way of the Cross with the participation of the Pope.

On Saturday 30 July, participants take part in a pilgrimage to the Field of Mercy (Campus Misericordiae) at Brzegi near Kraków, marking the start of the vigil with Pope Francis. It will be a time for deep prayer and a meeting with Christ, filled with focus and joy and ending with a nighttime concert of adoration.

World Youth Day Kraków 2016 culminates on 31 July with a holy mass celebrated by the Holy Father in Brzegi. During the Eucharist, he will “send young people into the world”, and at the end, during the prayer Angelus Domini, he will make an official announcement of the date and host city of the next World Youth Day.

Youth Festival

This cultural event aims to present the living Church in all its diversity, bringing together people from different cultures. Between 26 and 29 July, the main squares of Kraków (including the Podgórze and Nowa Huta districts) and towns of Myślenice, Wieliczka, Bochnia, Trzebinia, Zielonki and Zabierzów host numerous concerts, theatre and dance performances, film screenings, sports events and outdoor exhibitions. The Main Market Square resounds with an oratorio by Piotr Rubik, and the Halleluya Festival at the Szczepański Square, organised by the Shalom community in Brazil, hosts the winner of the TV competition “Voice of Italy”, Sister Cristina Scuccia. The Jesuit Magis fellowship comes to the Small Market Square with the WYD Magis Caffee and film festival. At the outdoor stage by the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre, the Emmanuel fellowship hosts a multilingual Chaplet of Divine Mercy and a concert by Paddy Kelly (27 July), with a musical about the life of the Blessed Karl Leisner presented following day. Polish artists performing on stages of the Youth Festival include Darek Malejonek with his ensemble and the rapper Arkadio, founder of the “Do What You Love” campaign.

New this year will be sports events co-organised by the Siemacha Association. On 26 and 27 July, the Com-Com Zone in Nowa Huta hosts the Sports Festival featuring the Copa Católica tournament and streetball and breakdance competitions.

Between 26 and 29 July, the Vocations Center presents the activities of various Catholic organisations and fellowships, as well as hosting Academies of God, Family, Work and Mercy. The majority of the communities are from Poland, France and the US, but Kraków also welcomes representatives of countries including El Salvador, Barbados, Indonesia, South Korea, Norway, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, Lebanon and Togo. It is with these communities that the collective heart of young Church beats.

All events of the Youth Festival are free and open to everyone – participants in WYD, Cracovians and tourists.

Maria Mater Misericordiae

Opened in June, the exhibition at the National Museum in Krakow is a continuation of John Paul II’s initiative; he wanted the gatherings of young people from around the globe to be accompanied by great art exhibitions organised by the Vatican John Paul II Foundation for Young People in collaboration with important museums in host cities. The exhibition Maria Mater Misericordiae (to 9 October) comprises 90 paintings, sculptures and prints on loan from 62 institutions and private collections, mainly in Italy. The artworks were created between 1100 and the 18th century by European masters including Giotto di Bondone, Paolo Veneziano, Donatello, Hans Memling, Andrea Mantegna, Albrecht Dürer and Peter Paul Rubens. The exhibition also recalls the leading theme of WYD Kraków 2016 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy”. Today, the concept of Divine Mercy is perhaps the most commonly associated with the world-famous image of Christ, but the exhibition serves as a reminder that for centuries it was personified by Mary. The presentation reveals different iconographic images of the Mother of Mercy: the popular depiction of Mary in a blue cloak is shown alongside Mother of God nursing the infant Jesus, Virgin of Tenderness (Eleusa), Mary mourning Christ’s body as it is taken down from the cross (Pieta), Mary the Co-Redemptrix, and Mary offering prayers for all of humankind. The images are a reflection of centuries-old theological debates and a moving expression of a “living faith and a sign of the relationships people have built and continue to build with the Mother of God,” according to the exhibition catalogue.

Kraków for pilgrims

Our city offers numerous cultural events showcasing the wealth of local history and traditions. During World Youth Day, museums extend their opening hours, cultural events host artistic workshops and concerts, and the Bednarski Park hosts a meeting with dances from around the globe. Kraków also introduces the Polish Pope to all visitors, with many outdoor exhibitions, a performance by the Ludowy Theatre Young People Are My Hope and a concert at the Main Market Square, featuring Ewa Bem, Mietek Szcześniak, the Kraków Philharmonic’s Boys’ Choir, the Beethoven Academy Orchestra, a jazz ensemble and traditional highlander music all dedicated to him. The spiritual life of the royal city is presented during the Cracovia Sacra Night (24-27 July), moved from August especially for the occasion; see more below. (bf)

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