S. John Paul II Homil. 748
Gniezno - 3 June 1997
1. Veni, Creator Spiritus!
Today we are at the tomb of Saint Adalbert in Gniezno. We are thus at the centre of the Millennium of Adalbert. A month ago I began this journey in honour of Saint Adalbert in Prague and in Libice, in the Diocese of Hradek Králové, whence he came. And today we are in Gniezno, at the place — it can be said — where he ended his earthly pilgrimage. I give thanks to the Triune God that at the end of this Millennium I have been granted the opportunity to pray once again before the relics of Saint Adalbert, which are one of our greatest national treasures.
We are here to follow the spiritual journey of Saint Adalbert, which in a sense begins in the Upper Room. Today's Liturgy leads us precisely to the Upper Room, to which the Apostles returned from the Mount of Olives after Christ's Ascension into heaven. For forty days after the Resurrection he appeared to them and spoke to them about the Kingdom of Heaven. He told them not to leave Jerusalem but to await the promise of the Father: "which, he said, you heard from me. John baptized with water, but before many days... you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth" (Ac 1,4).
749 The Apostles thus receive the missionary mandate. By virtue of the words of the Risen Lord they must go into all the world to teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (cf. Mt Mt 28,14-20). But for now they return to the Upper Room and remain in prayer, awaiting the fulfilment of the promise. On the tenth day, the feast of Pentecost, Christ sent them the Holy Spirit, who transformed their hearts. They were made strong and ready to assume the missionary mandate. And so they began the work of evangelization.
The Church continues this work. The successors of the Apostles continue to go forth into all the world to make disciples of all nations. Towards the end of the first millennium, there first set foot on Polish soil the sons of various nations which had already become Christian, especially the nations bordering Poland. Among them a central place belongs to Saint Adalbert, who came to Poland from neighbouring and closely-related Bohemia. He was at the origin, in a certain sense, of the Church's second beginning in the lands of the Piast. The baptism of the nation in 966, at the time of Mieszko I, was confirmed by the blood of the Martyr. And not only this: with him Poland became part of the family of European countries. Before the relics of Saint Adalbert, the Emperor Otto III and Boleslaw the Brave met in the presence of a legate of the Pope. This meeting was of great historical significance — the Congress of Gniezno. Obviously it had political significance, but ecclesial significance as well. At the tomb of Saint Adalbert, the first Polish metropolitan see was announced by Pope Silvester II: Gniezno, to which the episcopal sees of Krakow, Wroclaw and Kolobrzeg were joined.
2. The seed which dies bears much fruit (cf. Jn Jn 12,24). These words of the Gospel of John, spoken one day by Christ to the Apostles, are singularly applicable to Adalbert. By his death, he bore the supreme witness. "He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (Jn 12,25). Saint Adalbert also bore witness to the apostolic service. For Christ says: "If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there shall my servant be also; if anyone serves me, the Father will honour him" (Jn 12,26). Adalbert followed Christ. He made a long journey which took him from his native Libice to Prague, and from Prague to Rome. Then, after facing resistance from his fellow countrymen in Prague, he left as a missionary for the Pannonian Plain and from there, through the Moravian Gate to Gniezno and the Baltic. His mission in a sense was the crowning point of the evangelization of the lands of the Piast. And this was precisely because Adalbert bore witness to Christ by undergoing a martyr's death. Boleslaw the Brave ransomed the body of the Martyr and had it brought here, to Gniezno.
In him the words of Christ were fulfilled. Above love of earthly life Adalbert had placed love of the Son of God. He followed Christ as a faithful and generous servant, bearing witness to him at the cost of his own life. And the Father honoured him indeed. The People of God surrounded him on earth with the veneration reserved to a saint, in the conviction that a Martyr of Christ in heaven is surrounded with glory by the Father.
"The grain of wheat which dies, bears much fruit" (cf. Jn Jn 12,24). How literally were these words fulfilled in the life and death of Saint Adalbert! His death by martyrdom, mingled with the blood of other Polish martyrs, is at the foundation of the Polish Church and the Polish State itself. The shedding of the blood of Adalbert continues to bear ever fresh spiritual fruit. All Poland, from its origins as a State and throughout the centuries that followed, has continued to draw upon it. The Congress of Gniezno opened to Poland the path of unity with the whole family of the states of Europe. On the threshold of the Second Millennium the Polish nation acquired the right to take part, on a par with other nations, in the formation of a new face of Europe. Saint Adalbert is thus a great patron of our continent, then in the process of unification in the name of Christ. Both by his life and his death, the Holy Martyr laid the foundations of Europe's identity and unity. Many times have I walked in these historic footsteps, at the time of the Millennium of the Baptism of Poland, coming from Krakow to Gniezno with the relics of Saint Stanislaus, and I thank Divine Providence that today I am able to make this journey once more.
We thank you, Saint Adalbert, for having brought us together today here in such great numbers. Among us are distinguished guests. I think first of the Presidents of the countries linked to the person of Vojtech-Adalbert. For their presence here I thank President Kwasniewski of Poland, President Havel of the Czech Republic, President Brazauskas of Lithuania, President Herzog of Germany, President Kovac of the Slovak Republic, President Kuczma of Ukraine, and President Göncz of Hungary.
Your Excellencies: your presence here in Gniezno today has a particular significance for the whole continent of Europe. As was the case a thousand years ago, so too today, such a presence testifies to the desire for peaceful coexistence and the building of a new Europe, united by bonds of solidarity. I ask you kindly to convey my cordial greetings to the nations which you represent.
I express my gratitude also to the Cardinals who have come from the Eternal City, beginning with the Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano, and the Cardinals of the countries linked to the figure of Saint Adalbert, led by Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the successor of Saint Adalbert in the episcopal see of Prague. I am pleased that among us are Cardinals from distant parts of the world, from America to Australia. I cordially greet and thank for their presence the Polish Cardinals, with the Cardinal Primate at their head, and the Archbishops and Bishops. I thank also the Orthodox Bishops and the Heads of the Communities of the Reformation, as well as the leaders of other Ecclesial Communities. I address a cordial word of greeting to Archbishop Muszynski, Metropolitan of Gniezno, and to you, dear brothers and sisters, who have come from all over Poland for this meeting.
3. Deeply impressed upon my memory is the meeting in Gniezno in June 1979, when, for the first time, the Pope, a native of Krakow, was able to celebrate the Eucharist on the Hill of Lech, in the presence of the unforgettable Primate of the Millennium, the whole Polish Episcopate and many pilgrims not only from Poland but also from the neighbouring countries. Today, eighteen years later, we should return to that homily in Gniezno, which in a certain sense became the programme of my pontificate. But first of all it was a humble reading of God's plans, linked with the final twenty-five years of our millennium. I said then: Is it not Christ's will, is it not what the Holy Spirit disposes, that this Polish Pope, this Slav Pope, should at this precise moment manifest the spiritual unity of Christian Europe? We know that the Christian unity of Europe is made up of two great traditions, of the West and of the East... Yes, it is Christ's will, it is what the Holy Spirit disposes, that what I am saying should be said in this very place and at this moment in Gniezno" (Homily at the Cathedral of Gniezno, 3 June 1979).
From this place there flowed forth at that time the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. Here reflection on the new evangelization began to take shape in concrete terms. In the meantime great transformations took place, new possibilities arose, other people appeared on the scene. The wall which divided Europe collapsed. Fifty years after the Second World War began, its effects ceased to ravage the face of our continent. A half century of separation ended, for which millions of people living in Central and Eastern Europe had paid a terrible price. And so here, at the tomb of Saint Adalbert, today I give thanks to Almighty God for the great gift of freedom granted to the nations of Europe, and I do so in the words of the Psalmist:
"Then they said among the nations,
750 'The Lord has done great things for them'.
The Lord has done great things for us;
and we are glad" (Ps 126,2-3).
4. Dear brothers and sisters, after so many years I repeat the same message: a new openness is needed. For we have seen, at times in a very painful way, that the recovery of the right to self-determination and the growth of political and economic freedom is not sufficient to rebuild European unity. How can we not mention here the tragedy of the nations of the former Yugoslavia, the drama experienced by the Albanian people and the enormous burdens felt by all the societies which have regained their freedom and with great effort are liberating themselves from the yoke of the Communist totalitarian system?
Can we not say that after the collapse of one wall, the visible one, another, invisible wall was discovered, one that continues to divide our continent — the wall that exists in people's hearts? It is a wall made out of fear and aggressiveness, of lack of understanding for people of different origins, different colour, different religious convictions; it is the wall of political and economic selfishness, of the weakening of sensitivity to the value of human life and the dignity of every human being. Even the undeniable achievements of recent years in the economic, political and social fields do not hide the fact that this wall exists. It casts its shadow over all of Europe. The goal of the authentic unity of the European continent is still distant. There will be no European unity until it is based on unity of the spirit. This most profound basis of unity was brought to Europe and consolidated down the centuries by Christianity with its Gospel, with its understanding of man and with its contribution to the development of the history of peoples and nations. This does not signify a desire to appropriate history. For the history of Europe is a great river into which many tributaries flow, and the variety of traditions and cultures which shape it is its great treasure. The foundations of the identity of Europe are built on Christianity. And its present lack of spiritual unity arises principally from the crisis of this Christian self-awareness.
5. Brothers and sisters, it was Jesus Christ, "the same yesterday and today and for ever" (cf. Heb He 13,8) who revealed to man his dignity! He is the guarantee of this dignity! It was the patrons of Europe — Saint Benedict and Saints Cyril and Methodius — who grafted on to European culture the truth about God and about man. It was the ranks of missionary saints, recalled to us today by Saint Adalbert, Bishop and martyr, who brought to the peoples of Europe the teaching about love of neighbour, even love of enemies — a teaching confirmed by the gift of their lives for the sake of others. This Good News, the Gospel, has sustained our brothers and sisters in Europe over the course of the centuries, down to the present day. This message was repeated by the walls of churches, abbeys, hospitals and universities. It was proclaimed by books, sculpture and painting, by poetry and musical compositions. Upon the Gospel were laid the foundations of Europe's spiritual unity.
From the tomb of Saint Adalbert, then, I ask: are we allowed to reject the law of Christian life, which states that abundant fruit is borne only by those who offer their lives for the love of God and of their brothers and sisters, like a seed cast upon the ground? Here, from this place I repeat the cry which I made at the beginning of my pontificate: Open the doors to Christ! In the name of respect for human rights, in the name of liberty, equality and fraternity, in the name of solidarity among mankind and in the name of love, I cry out: Do not be afraid! Open the doors to Christ! Without Christ it is impossible to understand man. For this reason, the wall which today is raised in people's hearts, the wall which divides Europe, will not be torn down without a return to the Gospel. For without Christ it is impossible to build lasting unity. It cannot be done by separating oneself from the roots from which the countries of Europe have grown, and from the great wealth of the spiritual culture of past centuries. How can a "common house" for all of Europe be built, if it is not built with the bricks of men's consciences, baked in the fire of the Gospel, united by the bond of a fraternal social love, the fruit of the love of God? This was the reality for which Saint Adalbert strove, and for this future he gave his life. He reminds us today that a new society cannot be built without a renewed humanity, which is society's firmest foundation.
6. On the threshold of the third millennium the witness of Saint Adalbert is ever present in the Church and constantly bearing fruit. We need to take up with fresh vigour his work of evangelization. Let us help those who have forgotten Christ and his teaching to discover him anew. This will happen when ranks of faithful witnesses to the Gospel begin once more to traverse our continent; when works of architecture, literature and art show in a convincing way to the people of our time the One who is "the same yesterday and today and for ever"; when in the Church's celebration of the Liturgy people see how beautiful it is to give glory to God; when they discern in our lives a witness of Christian mercy, heroic love and holiness.
Dear brothers and sisters, what an extraordinary hour of history we have been granted to live in! What important tasks Christ has entrusted to us! He is calling each of us to prepare the new springtime of the Church. He wishes the Church — ever the same from the time of the Apostles and of Saint Adalbert — to enter the new millennium full of freshness, overflowing with new life and evangelical zeal. In 1949 the Primate of the Millennium exclaimed: "Here, at the tomb of Saint Adalbert, we will light torches which will proclaim to our land the 'light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people' (Lc 2,32)" (Pastoral Letter upon entering the See). Today we raise this cry anew, imploring the light and fire of the Holy Spirit to kindle our torches and make us heralds of the Gospel to the farthest limits of the earth.
7. Saint Adalbert is always with us. He has remained in Gniezno of the Piast and in the Universal Church, surrounded by the glory of martyrdom. And from the perspective of the Millennium he seems to speak to us today with the words of Saint Paul: "Only let your manner of life be worthy of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponent" (Ph 1,27-28). Yes, in one spirit, striving side by side for the faith.
Today we re-read once more, after a thousand years, this testament of Paul and Adalbert. We ask that their words may be fulfilled in our own generation too. For in Christ we have been granted the grace not only to believe in him but also to suffer for his sake, since we too have sustained the conflict of which Adalbert has left us his witness (cf. Phil Ph 1,29-30).
751 We entrust ourselves to Saint Adalbert, asking him to intercede for us, as the Church and Europe prepare for the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000.
And we invoke the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and fortitude:
Veni, Creator Spiritus! Amen.
Poznan — 3 June 1997
Dear Young Friends!
1. "This is the day which the Lord has given us. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"
Everywhere on my pilgrimage this year in my homeland I am met with expressions of great warmth and joy. That is how it was at Wroclaw , at Legnica, at Gorzów, at Gniezno, and that is how it is here too, at Poznan.
I thank you with all my heart for this meeting and for coming in such great numbers, even though this is time of exams and final marks. I greet each of you, one by one, and through you I wish to greet all the young people of Poland, and also your parents, teachers, chaplains and professors, and the whole university world. I extend words of cordial greeting to the Archbishop of the Church in Poznan, to his Auxiliary Bishops and to the People of God of this beloved Archdiocese. I greet also Archbishop Jerzy Stroba, who for many long years exercised his pastoral ministry in this Archdiocese. I thank him for all that he has done for the universal Church and especially for the Church in Poland.
"This is the day which the Lord has given us . . ."
2. The passage from Matthew's Gospel which we have just read takes us to the Lake of Gennesaret. The Apostles had got into the boat to go before Jesus to the other side. And it came to pass that as they rowed in the chosen direction they saw Jesus walking on the lake. Christ was walking on the water as though it were solid ground. The Apostles were afraid, thinking it was a ghost. Jesus, hearing their cry, spoke: "Take heart, it is I; have no fear" (Mt 14,27). And then Peter said: "Lord if it is you, bid me come to you on the water". And Jesus answered, "Come!" (Mt 14,28-29). So Peter stepped out of the boat and began to walk on the water. He was just about to come to Christ when there was a strong gust of wind and he became afraid. As he began to sink he called out: "Lord, save me!" (Mt 14,30). The Jesus reached out his hand, caught him and kept him from sinking and said: "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Mt 14,31).
This Gospel event is full of profound meaning. It concerns the most important problem of human life, faith in Jesus Christ. Peter certainly had faith, as he later magnificently showed in the region near Caesarea Philippi, but at that moment his faith was not yet solid. When the wind began to blow more strongly Peter began to sink, because he had doubted. It was not the wind that made Peter sink into the lake but the insufficiency of his faith. Peter's faith had lacked one essential element — complete abandonment to Christ, total trust in him at the moment of great trial; he lacked unreserved hope in him. Faith and hope, together with love, constitute the foundation of the Christian life, the cornerstone of which is Jesus Christ.
752 In Jesus' death on the Cross and in his Resurrection from the tomb God's love for man and for the world was fully revealed. Jesus is the only way to the Father, the only way that leads to truth and life (cf. Jn Jn 14,6). This message which the Church ever since the beginning has proclaimed to all men and all nations was proclaimed anew to our generation by the Second Vatican Council. Allow me to quote a brief passage from the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes: "The Church believes that Christ, who died and was raised up for all, can through his Spirit offer man the light and the strength to measure up to his supreme destiny. Nor has any other name under heaven been given to man by which it is fitting for him to be saved. She likewise holds that in her most benign Lord and Master can be found the key, the focal point, and the goal of all human history. The Church also maintains that beneath all changes there are many realities which do not change and which have their ultimate foundation in Christ, who is the same yesterday and today, yes and for ever" (No. 10).
Dear young people, follow Christ with the enthusiasm of your youthful hearts. He alone can calm man's fear. Look to Jesus from the depths of your hearts and minds! He is you inseparable friend.
This message about Christ, to which I devoted my first Encyclical Redemptor Hominis, I announce to the young people of every continent during my pastoral visits and on the occasion of the World Youth Days. It is also the theme of the August meeting that the youth will have with the Pope in Paris: I cordially invite you to this meeting. As Christians you are called to bear witness to faith and hope, so that people — as Saint Paul writes — "will not be without hope and without God in this world" but will "learn to know Christ" (cf. Eph Ep 2,12 Ep 4,20).
Faith in Christ and the hope which he teaches enables man to conquer himself, to conquer everything in him that is weak and sinful; and at the same time this faith and hope lead him to victory over evil and the effects of sin in the world around him. Christ freed Peter from the fear which had seized him on the stormy lake. Christ enables us too to overcome the difficult moments in life, if with faith and hope we turn to him and ask his help. "Take heart, it is I; have no fear" (Mt 14,27). Strong faith, from which is born limitless hope, a virtue so needed today, frees man from fear and gives him the spiritual strength to resist all life's storms. Do not be afraid of Christ! Trust him completely! He alone "has words of eternal life". Christ never lets us down!
Here in this place, in Adam Mickiewicz Square, there once stood a monument to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the visible sign of the victory won by the Polish people thanks to their faith and hope in Christ. The monument was erected in 1932 with contributions from the whole of society as a testimony of gratitude for freedom regained. A Poland reborn gathered round the Heart of Jesus, to draw from this Fount of generous love the strength to build the country's future on the foundation of God's truth, in unity and harmony. After the outbreak of the Second World War that monument became such a dangerous symbol of the Christian and Polish spirit that it was destroyed by the invaders at the beginning of the Occupation.
3. Dear young people! How many times have the faith and hope of the Polish people been put to the test, a very difficult test, in this century which is about to end! We only need recall the First World War and, connected with it, the determination of all those who undertook the decisive struggle to regain independence. We only need recall the period of twenty years between the two wars, when everything had to be rebuilt. Then there came the Second World War and the terrible Occupation following the pact between Hitler's Germany and Soviet Russia, which decided upon the removal of Poland, as a State, from the map of Europe. What a radical challenge that period was for all Poles! Truly, the Second World War generation was in a certain sense immolated on the great altar of the struggle to maintain and ensure the freedom of the homeland. How many human lives it cost, young and promising lives! What a high price the Poles paid, first on the fronts in September 1939 and then on all the fronts where the Allies were fighting against the invaders.
At the end of the War there came a long period, of almost fifty years, of a new danger, this time not warlike but peaceful. The victory of the Red Army brought Poland not only freedom from Hitler's occupation but also a new oppression. If during the Occupation men died at the front, in the concentration camps, in clandestine political and military resistance, the last cry of which was the Warsaw Uprising, the first years of the new regime were a constant series of mistreatment of numberless Poles. The new power-holders did everything to subjugate the Nation, to make it submit to them politically and ideologically.
The following years, beginning with October 1956, were not as bloody; but that battle against the Nation and against the Church lasted until the 1980. It was the consequence of the challenge to the faith and hope of the Poles, who continued to spare no effort to avoid surrendering, to defend those religious and national values exposed to a particular danger.
My dear friends, this had to be said here, in this place. It was necessary to say it once again to you, the young people who will take on responsibility for the future of Poland in the Third Millennium. Awareness of our past helps us to take our place in the long line of generations, so that we can pass on to generations to come the common good, our homeland.
It would be difficult not to mention here still another monument, the Monument to the Victims of June 1956. It was erected in this Square by the people of Poznan and Wielkopolska on the 25th anniversary of the tragic events in which the great popular protest against the inhuman system of the oppression of human hearts and minds was expressed. I wanted to come to this Monument in 1983 when I made my first visit to your city as Pope, but on that occasion I was denied permission to pray beneath the Crosses of Poznan. I am pleased that today, together with you — the young Poland — I am able to kneel before this Monument and pay homage to the workers who gave their lives in defence of truth, justice and the independence of our homeland.
4. We look once more to the Lake of Gennesaret on which Peter's boat is sailing. The lake evokes the image of the world, also the modern world in which we are living and in which the Church is carrying out her mission. This world is a challenge for man, just as the lake was a challenge for Peter. For him it was so close and familiar, as the place of his daily work as a fisherman, and on the other hand it was the element of nature which he had to face with his own strength and experience.
753 Man has to enter this world, in a certain sense immerse himself in it, for he has received from God the command to "subdue the earth" by work, study, creative effort (cf. Gen Gn 1,28). On the other hand, man cannot shut himself up exclusively within the limits of the material world, neglecting the Creator. For this is against man's nature, against his inner truth, since the human heart, as Saint Augustine says, is restless until it rests in God (cf. Confessions, I,1,1). The human person, created in the image and likeness of God, cannot become a slave to things, to economic systems, to technological civilization, to consumerism, to easy success. Man cannot become the slave of his inclinations and passions, sometimes deliberately aroused. We must defend ourselves against this danger. We need to know how to use our freedom, choosing what is the true good. Do not let people make you slaves! Do not let people tempt you with false values, half-truths, the fascination of illusions, which you will later leave behind with disappointment, hurt and perhaps with your life ruined.
In the address which I once gave to UNESCO, I said that the first and essential task of culture is to educate man. And that education "consists in fact in enabling man to become more man, to 'be' more and not just to 'have' more and consequently, through everything he 'has', everything he 'possesses', to 'be' man more fully. For this purpose man must be able to 'be more' not only 'with others', but also 'for others'" (Address to UNESCO, Paris, 2 June 1980, No.11; in L'Osservatore Romano, English-language edition, 23 June 1980, p. 10).
This truth has a fundamental significance for self-education, self-realization, for developing in oneself the humanity and the divine life given in Baptism and strengthened in the Sacrament of Confirmation. Self-education aims precisely at "being" more human and more Christian, at discovering and developing in oneself the talents received from the Creator and realizing the vocation to holiness.
Sometimes the world can be something threatening, it is true; but someone who lives by faith and hope has in himself the power of the Spirit to face the dangers of this world. Peter walked on the waves of the lake, even though it was against the laws of gravity, because he was looking Jesus in the eye. When he doubted, when he lost personal contact with the Master, he began to sink and was rebuked: "O man of little faith, why did you doubt?" (Mt 14,31).
From the example of Peter we learn how important in the spiritual life is the personal bond with Christ: it has to be constantly renewed and deepened. How? Above all by prayer. My dear friends, pray and learn to pray, read and meditate on the Word of God, strengthen the bond with Christ in the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, study the problems of the interior life and of the apostolate in youth groups, Church movements and organizations, which are numerous in our country.
5. Dear young friends! We are celebrating the Jubilee of the millennium of the martyrdom of Saint Adalbert. Today at Gniezno, at the Solemn Eucharist, I said that Saint Adalbert bore witness to Christ, suffering martyrdom for the faith. This martyrdom of the great Apostle of the Slavs challenges you: today too it calls for the witness of the life of each one of you. It calls for new men and women who will make manifest in the midst of this world the "power and the wisdom" (cf. 1Co 1,22-25) of the Gospel of God in their own lives. This world, which sometimes seems like an untameable element, like a stormy sea, at the same time has a profound thirst for Christ, such a thirst for the Good News. It has such need of love.
Be in this world bearers of Christian faith and hope by living love every day. Be faithful witnesses of the Risen Christ, never turn back before the obstacles that present themselves on the paths of your lives. I am counting on you. On your youthful energy and your dedication to Christ. I have known Polish youth. They have never disappointed me. The world needs you. The Church needs you. The future of Poland depends on you. Build and strengthen on Polish soil the "civilization of love": in personal, social and political life, in the schools, universities, parishes and families that one day you will form. For this purpose spare none of your youthful enthusiasm, energy and sacrifice. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Rm 15,13).
I entrust to the protection of Mary, the Faithful Virgin, the Mother of Fairest Love, the Queen of Poland, each of you and all the youth of our homeland.
Kalisz, 4 June 1997
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I give thanks to Divine Providence because today it has brought me to visit your city, this Kalisz which the most ancient chronicles mark on their maps long before the beginnings of the Polish State. I have already been here several times. I remember those meetings and the people who took part in them. I cordially greet all of you here present. In a special way I greet Bishop Stanislaw Napierala, your Pastor, the Auxiliary Bishop, the clergy, the consecrated persons. I greet you, land of Kalisz, with all the riches of your past and present. I pray that all this will be renewed in some way in today's Eucharist.
S. John Paul II Homil. 748