The presence of World Youth Day 2016 patron saints — St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska — can be seen, felt and heard everywhere in the city of Krakow, during catechesis, pilgrim chatter and banners of their images in the streets. 

At the Mercy Centre, dedicated to WYD English-language catechesis, pilgrims had the opportunity to venerate the relics of Polish saints and blesseds, including St. John Paul II, St. Faustina Kowalska and St. Maximilian Kolbe. 

“My mother passed on to me a devotion to the Divine Mercy and it was powerful to be in the presence of a relic of St. Faustina,” said Chentel Tabbada, a WYD pilgrim from St. Dennis Catholic Church in Diamond Bar, California. “It was so special to be in the presence of the relics of St. John Paul II and St. Maximilian Kolbe, especially since we have been visiting their country — it makes me feel so close to them,” Tabbada said.

Pope Francis visited Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum today, five days after the pilgrims from LA had visited. During their respective visits, they prayed at Block No. 11 where St. Maximilian Kolbe voluntarily died in place of another inmate.  

Pope Francis prayed in silence during his trip Auschwitz-Birkenau and wrote in the memorial book: "Lord, have mercy on your people. Lord, forgive so much cruelty.”   

“Our visit reminded me of the horrors of the holocaust and the distance that people can put between themselves and the Lord,” said Adam Marquez a first-time WYD pilgrim from St. Francis Xavier Church in Pico Rivera, California. “This is why WYD has been so moving for me. The world is united in one place to celebrate our faith and humanity.” 

Pope Francis stressed that today, Friday, is “a day devoted to suffering, a day on which we recalled the suffering of Jesus Christ. We closed the day together with young people in a Way of the Cross procession. We prayed together and experienced the Way of the Cross — Jesus Christ's pain and suffering for us all.”