WYD week – Wednesday

An extraordinarily blessed day for our Emmanuel pilgrims  – visiting the shrines of two amazing Polish saints – Saint Pope John Paul II, and Saint Faustina!

The shrines are situated very close to each other, in an area of Krakow south of the city centre.

It proved to be a VERY popular day at the shrines – thousands upon thousands descending on this area of Krakow to venerate these two amazing people of God.

We were smushed (best word to explain the situation!) on to trams and buses in both directions – and arrived at the shrine of Saint Pope JPII mid-morning.

The shrine is amazing! A beautiful tribute to the life of this amazing Pope – the man who started World Youth Day!

We had the opportunity to pray briefly in the church, where JPII’s relics are situated. They include a first-class relic of his blood, contained in a glass vial.

Also on display, the blood-stained cassock worn by the pontiff when he was shot on in 1981.

See http://www.jp2shrine.org/en/index.html for more information

Next, we headed to the sanctuary of Divine Mercy! We felt so blessed to be able to visit the Shrine of St Faustina and the Divine Mercy in the Jubilee Year of Mercy!

A bit of background on the Divine Mercy – http://www.thedivinemercy.org/message/stfaustina:

“Sister Faustina was a young, uneducated nun in a convent of the Congregation of Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland during the 1930s. She had only three years of simple education, so hers were the humblest tasks in the convent, usually in the kitchen or garden. However, she received extraordinary revelations — or messages — from our Lord Jesus. Jesus asked Sr. Faustina to record these experiences, which she compiled into notebooks. These notebooks are known today as the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, and the words contained within are God’s loving message of Divine Mercy.

In 1931, our Lord appeared to St. Faustina in a vision. She saw Jesus clothed in a white garment with His right hand raised in blessing. His left hand was touching His garment in the area of the Heart, from where two large rays came forth, one red and the other pale. She gazed intently at the Lord in silence, her soul filled with awe, but also with great joy. Jesus said to her:

Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over [its] enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I Myself will defend it as My own glory (Diary, 47, 48). I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You (327). I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and [then] throughout the world (47). 

Many different versions of this image have been painted, but our Lord made it clear that the painting itself is not what is important. 

So, no matter which version of the image we prefer, we can be assured that it is a vehicle of God’s grace if it is revered with trust in His mercy.

Sr. Faustina’s Diary sparked a great movement, and a strong and significant focus on the mercy of Christ. Saint John Paul II canonized Sr. Faustina in 2000 making her the “first saint of the new millennium.” Speaking of Sr. Faustina and the importance of the message contained in her Diary, the Pope call her “the great apostle of Divine Mercy in our time.”

We had an amazing time at the Shrine. Unfortunately, due to the massive crowds, we were unable to view the actual original painting of the Divine Mercy, but we were able to spend time in prayer in the Basilica, and celebrated mass in one of the chapels.

A powerful spiritual experience to celebrate the Eucharist, and reflect on the amazing mercy of God, at the Shrine of Divine Mercy, in the jubilee year of mercy!

After lunch, we enjoyed a leisurely afternoon of free time – many of us taking the opportunity to explore the central market square in the old town centre. It was packed with pilgrims from all over the world – all full of energy and joy!

In the evening we headed out to the international gathering of the Emmanuel Community! A fantastic opportunity to meet members of the community from all over the world, and celebrate all that the Lord is doing. For many of the pilgrims, it was a great chance to catchup with old friends from the Emmanuel School of Mission, and other Emmnanuel outreaches.

We had a fantastic night of praise and worship, prayer, adoration and confession, that ended with a Eucharistic procession from the park, through the city streets, to a nearby church. Many pilgrims said it was one of the most moving moments of their entire pilgrimage!