I’d like to tell you, what I noticed while walking around in Kraków these weeks. Many roads, pavements and bus stops have been refurbished. Some major roads are lined with banners with the images of St. John Paul II and St. Faustina. There are also many posters with St. Mary, which advertise a big exhibition Maria Mater Misericordiae at National Museum. Next to many historical sites stand pillars in red, yellow and blue attracting attention of the passers-by. All of these decorations are small but noticeable, colourful but elegant. In our cathedral a major renovation has finished and on the sides of St. Stanislaus’ coffin there are Polish and papal flags. Many parishes are preparing lodgings for visitors. The walks, in the last weeks before the World Youth Days, have made me feel really positive about our city and about the event we are hosting.
The unobtrusive decorations show that Kraków knows what it’s worth. There’s been no need to change anything, no need to hide or highlight any specific places specially for the World Youth Days. The improvements in infrastructure and the renovation in the cathedral are all long-term projects, which will serve the pilgrims, the locals and future visitors. Our guests will be able to enjoy Kraków ‘as is’. They may wander and wonder at the city’s genuine beauty, they may turn wherever they want: the city has been long ready to receive them.
The accent on quality in the preparations shows also what event and what guests we are hosting. We are hosting young pilgrims coming for a religious event. We are expecting young enthusiastic people, who are full of potential and eager to work on themselves. While meeting new people and visiting new places are certainly important for them, they are looking also for some spiritual boost. Without doubt Kraków has something to offer. St. John Paul II and St. Faustina will guide us not only to the WYD venues but if we take time to explore their lives and writings they can guide us also towards the right spiritual path. What is more, their serious yet calm faces and the serene face of Mary remind us that we don’t need to fake cheerfulness if we are joyful inside.
All in all, my impression is that Kraków is ready to welcome its guests. The focus on truth and maturity, which I’ve noticed, makes me want to work on myself as well. I hope, the World Youth Days 2016 will bring positive changes in both the pilgrims and us, the locals.
And here’s something similar in spirit, a great rendition of the WYD song performed by young people from Limanowa.