S. John Paul II Homil. 1034
Tuesday, 15 June 1999
1. Te Deum laudamus: te Dominum confitemur.
Te aeternum Patrem, omnis terra veneratur.
“We praise you, O God, we acclaim you as the Lord
Everlasting Father, all the world bows down before you.”
How great is the gift of Divine Providence which today enables me, together with the Church in Kraków, to join in this hymn which, for centuries, heaven and earth have raised to the glory of their Creator, Lord and Father!
Te per orbem terrarum sancta confitetur Ecclesia,
Patrem immensae maiestatis;
1035 “To the ends of the earth your holy Church proclaims her faith in you:
Father, whose majesty is boundless.”
It is a great gift that, while the Church throughout the world gives thanks to God for the two thousand years of her existence, at the same time the Church here in Kraków gives thanks for its own millennium! How can we not intone the solemn Te Deum, which today takes on a particular significance; it expresses the gratitude of entire generations of the city’s inhabitants for everything that the community of the faithful has contributed to the life of the Kraków region. How can we not give thanks for that breath of the Spirit of Christ which from the Upper Room spread throughout the world and reached the banks of the Vistula, and continually renews the face of the earth - of this land of Kraków! We praise you, O God!
I extend a heartfelt greeting to all the people of the city. I greet Cardinal Franciszek, Auxiliary Bishops Jan and Kazimierz, as well as the emeritus Bishops, Stanislaw and Albin. I warmly embrace all the priests, consecrated men and women, students of the Major Seminary, and lay catechists. I also extend greetings to the provincial and city authorities. I cordially greet you, brothers and sisters, who have come together in Blonia Krakowskie, to join the Pope in celebrating this Eucharist for the Millennium. I greet all those who are with us through radio and television. I address words of special gratitude to the sick. The offering of your suffering, which you present in union with Christ every day for all mankind, for the Church and for the Pope, is of great value in God’s eyes. On the threshold of the third Millennium, may it be the crowning of our praise and our petition for forgiveness and of our pleas.
2. Te gloriosus Apostolorum chorus
te prophetarum laudabilis numerus,
te martyrum candidatus laudat exercitus.
“The glorious band of apostles,
the noble company of prophets,
the white-robed army who shed their blood for Christ
all sing your praise.”
1036 Today the apostles, prophets and martyrs give praise to God. At the end of the first millennium they reached the banks of the Vistula and spread the seed of the Gospel. Following the battle of Mieszko in 966, many witnesses came into the land of the Piast, among whom Adalbert, Bishop of Prague, became the most famous. According to tradition, before reaching the Baltic, where he endured a martyr’s death, he stopped in Kraków and proclaimed the Good News here . It seems that he preached on the spot where, after his death, a church dedicated to him was built, which still exists today. Adalbert’s apostolic activity and his martyrdom are also linked in another way to the beginnings of the Church in Kraków. Near his tomb arose the Metropolitan See of Gniezno, which included the episcopal sees of Kolobrzeg, Wroclaw and Kraków. At Gdansk, we gave thanks to God in a particular way for the life and work of this great patron of Poland, and it is right that in Kraków also we should gratefully recall his witness and martyrdom which have been a beacon of light for a thousand years.
Finally, at the dawn of the history of this Church, the flame of the pastoral ministry and heroic death of Saint Stanislaus was lit. When we hear in today’s liturgy the words of Christ: “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10,11), we realize that through the work of this Saint these words are closely bound up with the history of the Church in Kraków. His heroic concern for the Lord’s flock, for the lost sheep in need of help, became the model to which the Church in this city for centuries faithfully turned for inspiration. From generation to generation, the tradition of unshakeable perseverence in respecting God’s law and, at the same time, in showing great love for man was passed on - this tradition came to birth at the tomb of the Bishop Saint Stanislaus of Szczepanowo.
If today we return to the beginnings and to these figures, we do so to renew our awareness that the roots of the Church in Kraków are profoundly fixed in the apostolic tradition, in the prophetic mission and in the witness of martyrdom. Entire generations made this tradition, mission and martyrdom their own, and built their faith on them in the course of a millennium. Thanks to this point of reference, the Church in Kraków has always been in close union with the universal Church, and at the same time it developed its own historical character and wrote its own history as a unique and unrepeatable community of men and women sharing in the saving mission of Christ.
3. By staying in the current of the universal Church and simultaneously preserving its own unique character, this community gave shape to the history and culture of the city of Kraków, of the region and, it is possible to say, of the whole of Poland. What can witness more eloquently to this than the Wawel Cathedral? Today, while the voice of the Zygmunt bell seems to invite people to visit this mother church of Kraków, this treasure of the history of the Church and the Nation, let us go there on a spiritual pilgrimage. Let us stand in the midst of its builders and ask them what foundation did they lay under this construction to enable it to survive good times and bad, to give refuge to saints and heroes, shepherds and sovereigns, statesmen, creators of culture and entire generations of inhabitants of this city. Christ, who died and has risen, is he not its cornerstone? Let us kneel before the tabernacle in the Batory chapel, before the black Crucifix of Hedwig, near the confessio of Saint Stanislaus, let us go down into the crypt of Saint Leonard and rediscover the unique history of the Church of Kraków, which is joined with that of the city and the country. And every church, every religious chapel seems to tell the same story: it is due to the thousand year presence of the Church that the seed of the Gospel scattered here has borne abundant fruit in the history of this city, at the foot of the Wawel.
Does not the Alma Mater of Kraków confirm this? Was it not for love of Christ and obedience to his call to proclaim the Gospel to the nations that in the heart of Saint Hedwig, the Queen, there arose the desire to found the Faculty of Theology and to raise the Academy of Kraków to the rank of university? The fame of this University has been for centuries a source of pride for the Church in Kraków. From it emerged scholars of the calibre of Saint Jan Kanty, Piotr Wysz, Pawel Wlodkowic and others, who exercised great influence over the development of theological thought in the universal Church. How can we not mention Nicholas Copernicus, Stanislaus of Skalbmierz, Jan Kochanowski and all the hosts of those who grew in wisdom and, having loved truth, goodness and beauty, testified in various ways to having found in God their definitive crowning? What would Kraków be without this fruit of Saint Hedwig’s faith and wisdom?
The grafting of the Church onto the history of this city took place not only in the churches, royal palaces and university halls, but wherever fidelity to the Gospel required the witness of service to those in need. The ancient annals and modern chronicles have much to say about parish and religious schools, hospitals and orphanages; they report much about the works of mercy, big and small, which the people of Kraków accomplished, led by the enthusiasm of the preaching of Father Piotr Skarga, the humble example of Saint Brother Albert, and many other witnesses of practical love; they say much about the Church’s great concern for the life, freedom and dignity of every person which had to be shown, without sparing sacrifice, in the distant past but also at times close to our generation, in the times of war, the post-war torment and the period of transformation.
If we list today the fruit of ten centuries of the existence of the Church in Kraków, we do so to inflame our hearts with gratitude to God, who in the course of this history has poured out countless graces upon his people. We must remember this goodness and exclaim with ever greater enthusiasm: “Not to us, Lord, not to us, but to your name give the glory, for the sake of your love and your truth” (Ps 115,1), for what you have shown through the work of the Church in this land.
4. Tu rex gloriae, Christe.
Tu Patris sempiternus es Filius.
“You, Christ, are the king of glory,
Son of the eternal Father.”
1037 Today let us give glory to Christ. To him our hymn of praise is due. What value would the fruits of the Church’s existence have if they were not the revelation of the saving work of the Son of God? When we heard proclaimed in today’s liturgy of the word: “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10,11), we discovered in a sense the most essential reason for our thanksgiving.
“I am the good shepherd, I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep” (Jn 10,14-15). Christ speaks in this way about himself. He in fact is the good shepherd. Saint Paul, in the Letter to the Ephesians helps us in a sense to deepen our understanding of this description. The Apostle writes that God in his Son “chose us ... before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (1:4- 7).
If Christ is the Good Shepherd, the unique Good Shepherd, and as such the King of all pastors in the Church, this is because in Him dwells the love which unites him to the Father. Through this love is accomplished the divine election, which the Father made in man’s regard before the creation of the world. The eternal and only-begotten Son of God, who became man precisely in the name of this love, is concerned with one thing only: to multiply among men the number of adoptive sons who will respond to the Father’s eternal election. For this very reason he is the Good Shepherd. He offers his life to defend everyone from death, to increase life in them. This life is in Him. By becoming Man he brought this life into the world with himself, as the Father’s gift. As the Good Shepherd, Christ’s desire is to share this life, to bestow it on man, because only in this way - by sharing in God’s life - can man, a mortal being, be freed from spiritual death. The liturgy of today’s celebration shows us in a sense the deepest source of what the Church of Kraków has been on Polish soil for the past thousand years. It is the unique and never to be repeated accomplishment of the eternal plan of the Father, who has filled this community of God’s People with a boundless spiritual blessing through Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
For this reason, while we listen today to Christ’s parable of the Good Shepherd, we are aware that these words represent a measure to be applied to the history of the Church. Christ is the King of pastors, and down the centuries the pastors called by him have worked to bring about his kingdom. Thus through the parable of the Good Shepherd the thousand-year history of the Church in Kraków is revealed to us. We see all those who shared in the prophetic, priestly and royal mission of Christ through this Church - the entire People of God who during this millennium made up the Church in Kraków.
We see first those who, because of a special mandate of Christ, were shepherds of this People: the Bishops and priests. We see before us Saint Stanislaus, Blessed Wincenty Kadlubek, Iwo Odrowaz, Piotr Wysz, Zbigniew Olesnicki, Bernard Maciejowski and Adam Stefan Sapieha; present before us are Jan Dlugosz, Saint Jan Kanty and Blessed Piotr Dankowski, and many other bishops and priests, who are not only remembered in the Church but also inscribed in the history of the nation and its culture. How can we not mention here the Religious Orders! Already at the time of Saint Stanislaus, the Benedictines established themselves here, a little later the Cistercians, and after them came other orders and congregations, which produced apostles and pastors like Piotr Skarga, Saint Jerome Odrowaz, Blessed Stanislaus Kazimierczyk, Saint Maximilian, Saint Raphael Kalinowski.
If we embrace in our thoughts and hearts today all those who laboured as pastors in this Church for the kingdom of Christ, in historical perspective we see not only the priests, but also countless hosts of lay people. Before our eyes appear sovereigns and statesmen, led by Saint Hedwig and Saint Casimir, and with them a simple maidservant, Blessed Aniela Salawa, and the teacher of the Polytechnic, the Servant of God Jerzy Ciesielski, and also entire generations of parents, teachers, professors and students, doctors and nurses, business people and employees, artisans and farmers - men and women of different circumstances and professions. We also see the men and women who offered their lives to God and neighbour in the Religious Orders. As we gaze upon the images of Saint Brother Albert and Blessed Sister Faustina, we know that, in a sense, they represent all those who in some way reflected the parable of the Good Shepherd.
All these men and women of the Church, whether known by name or anonymous, by their life, their holiness, their everyday work and their suffering, testified in this land that God is love and that with this love God embraces everyone and leads them on the paths of this world to a new life. There is no greater reason than this for giving thanks for the thousand-year history of the Church in the land of Kraków. There is no greater gift than the gift of holiness which this land has received from the hands of the Church over the past ten centuries. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Ep 1,3).
Today I feel called in a particular way to gives thanks for this thousand-year old community of Christ’s pastors, clerics and lay people, because their witness to holiness and the environment of faith which they formed and continue to form in Kraków have made it possible, at the end of this millennium, for Christ’s exhortation: “Peter, feed my lambs” (Jn 21,15) to descend upon the banks of the Vistula, at the foot of the Wawel Cathedral. It became possible for one man’s weakness to find support in the power of the perennial faith, hope and charity of this land, and to give the response: “In the obedience of faith before Christ my Lord, entrusting myself to the Mother of Christ and of the Church, conscious of the great difficulty, I accept”.
5. Salvum fac populum tuum, Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.
Et rege eos, et extolle illos usque in aeternum.
“Lord, save your people and bless your inheritance.
1038 Rule them and uphold them for ever and ever.”
Throughout its history, the Church of Kraków has survived many storms and many trials. To dwell only on this century, we know that in the first place it resisted the destructive force of war and occupation, and despite painful losses it upheld its dignity, thanks especially to the uncompromising attitude of the Prince Cardinal Adam Sapieha. In the half-century after the war, the Church faced new challenges brought on by Communist totalitarianism and the atheistic ideology. The Church overcame the period of persecutions without ever losing the strength of its witness. At that time, the profound unity of its parishes, pastors and faithful, the great work of the religious education of the young and the works of mercy revealed themselves to be powerful supports, set on the foundation of a deep faith. In this regard, it is impossible not to recall my predecessor on the throne of Saint Stanislaus, Archbishop Eugeniusz Baziak.
A special factor in the renewal of the Church of Kraków were the labours of the Pastoral Synod of the Archdiocese in the years 1972-1979. I recall that unprecedented commitment of the faithful in the synodal groups, in the work of the individual commissions and that deep reflection of the Church of Kraków on itself. It led to a great examination of the past and present, but with a simultaneous look to the future.
Now, as we give thanks for the past splendour of this Church, in the same spirit we must look at today and tomorrow. We must ask ourselves: What has our generation done with this great heritage? Does the People of God of this Church continue to live from the tradition of the apostles, the mission of the prophets and the blood of the martyrs?
We must give an answer to these questions. In accordance with this answer, we must plan for the future so that it will be seen that the treasure of faith, hope and charity, which our fathers kept in the midst of struggles and which they handed down to us, will not be lost by this generation lulled into sleep, no longer as in the work of Wyspianski, The Wedding, by the dream of freedom, but by freedom itself. We bear a great responsibility for the development of faith, for the salvation of contemporary man and for the fate of the Church in the new millennium.
Hence, with Saint Paul, I ask you, brothers and sisters: take as your model the sound principles, in faith and love in Jesus Christ. Safeguard the deposit with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells in you (cf. 2Tm 1,13-14). Carry it into the third Christian millennium with the pride and humility of witnesses. Transmit to future generations the message of divine Mercy, which in this city was made manifest to the world. At the end of the twentieth century the world appears more than ever to be in need of such a message. Bring it into the new times as a promise of hope and pledge of salvation.
Merciful God, sustain the people of this land with your grace. Make the sons and daughters of this Church a generation of witnesses for future centuries. Ensure that in the power of the Holy Spirit the Church in Kraków and throughout the Fatherland may continue the work of sanctification which you entrusted to it a thousand years ago.
Fiat misericordia tua, Domine, super nos,
quemadmodum speravimus in te.
In te, Domine, speravi: non confundar in aeternum.
“May your mercy always be with us, Lord,
1039 for we have hoped in you.
In you, Lord, we put our trust:
we shall not be put to shame.”
Tuesday, 15 June 1999
1. “See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1Jn 3,1).
Our meeting today puts us into direct contact with the depths of the mystery of God’s love. We are in fact taking part in Vespers in honour of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which enable us to live and experience the reality of God’s love for man. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3,16). God loves the world and will love it to the end. The Heart of the Son of God pierced on the Cross and opened is a profound and definitive witness to God’s love. Saint Bonaventure writes: “It was a divine decree that permitted one of the soldiers to open his sacred wide with a lance . . . The blood and water which poured out at that moment was the price of our salvation” (The Liturgy of the Hours, Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, Office of Readings, Second Reading).
With trembling hearts and in humility we stand before the great mystery of God, who is love. Here today, in Gliwice, we wish to express to him our praise and immense gratitude.
It is with great joy that I come to you today, because you are dear to me. All the people of Silesia are dear to my heart. When I was Archbishop of Kraków I would go each year on pilgrimage to Our Lady of Piekary and we would gather there for prayer in common. I greatly appreciated every invitation. For me it was always a profound experience. However, this is the first time that I have come to the Diocese of Gliwice, because it is a young diocese which was established just a few years ago. Therefore, receive my cordial greeting, which I send first of all to your Bishop Jan and to his Auxiliary Bishop Gerard. I also greet the clergy, the families of Religious men and women, all consecrated persons and the faithful people of this Diocese. I am pleased that my travels on this pilgrimage in our homeland include Gliwice, a city which I have visited many times and of which I have special memories. With great joy I visit this land of men and women who are accustomed to hard work: it is the land of the Polish miner, the land of steel mills, mines and industrial furnaces; but it is also a land with a rich religious tradition. My thoughts and my heart open today to all of you here present, to all the people of Upper Silesia and of the entire land of Silesia. I greet all of you in the name of the one Triune God.
2. “God is love” (1Jn 4,16). These words of Saint John the Evangelist constitute the theme of the Pope’s pilgrimage in Poland. On the eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 this joyous and impressive news of a God who loves needs to be spread anew throughout the world. God is a reality which is beyond our human capacity to understand fully. Since he is God, our reasoning is unable to grasp his infiniteness, nor can his limitlessness be confined within narrow human dimensions. It is he who measures us, who rules over us, guides us and understands us, even though we may be unaware of it. This God, however unattainable in his essence, has made himself close to men and women by his paternal love. The truth of God who is love constitutes a kind of summing up and at the same time the high point of everything that God has revealed about himself, of what he has told us through the Prophets and through Jesus Christ about what he is.
God has revealed this love in various ways. First, in the mystery of creation. Creation is the work of God’s omnipotence guided by wisdom and love. “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you”, God says to Israel through the lips of the Prophet Jeremiah (31:3). God has loved the world which he has created, and above all things in the world he has loved man. Even when man turned away from this original love, God did not stop loving him and raised him up from his fall, because he is Father, because he is Love. In the most perfect and definitive way, God has revealed his love in Christ — in his Cross and in his Resurrection. Saint Paul will say: “God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive with Christ” (Ep 2,4-5). In this year’s message for youth I wrote: “The Father loves you”. This magnificent news has been placed in the heart of believing men and women who, like the disciple whom Jesus loved, rest their heads on the Master’s breast and listen to what he confides to them: “He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him” (Jn 14,21).
1040 “The Father loves you” — these words of the Lord Jesus are at the very heart of the Gospel. At the same time, no one shows more clearly than Jesus how demanding this love is: “he became obedient unto death” (Ph 2,8) and thus taught in the most perfect way that love waits for a response from men and women. It demands fidelity to the commandments and to the vocation which each person has received from God.
3. “We know and believe the love God has for us” (1Jn 4,16).
By grace, men and women are called to the Covenant with their Creator, to give a response of faith and love which no one else can give for them. This response has not been lacking here in Silesia. For whole centuries you have responded to God with your Christian lives. Your history shows you always united with the Church and her Pastors, strongly attached to the religious traditions of your forebears. In a particular way, the long post-War period — up to the changes which took place in our country in 1989 — was also for you a time of great trial of faith. You faithfully stood by God, withstanding atheism and the secularization of the nation and the battle against religion. I remember how thousands of workers in Silesia, at the Shrine of Piekary, repeated with firm resolve the motto: “Sunday belongs to God and to us”. You have always been aware of the need for prayer and for places where prayer could be better raised to God. Therefore you were never without the willingness of spirit or the generosity to work for the construction of new churches and places of worship, which sprang up in large numbers during that period in the cities and towns of Upper Silesia. You also had at heart the well- being of the family. For this reason you spoke up for the rights of families, especially the right for your children and for young people to be freely educated in the faith. You would often gather at shrines and in many other places dear to your hearts to give expression to your attachment to God and to bear witness to him. You would also invite me to those community celebrations in Silesia. I was always eager to proclaim the word of God, for you needed comfort during the difficult period of struggle when you fought to preserve your Christian identity, and you needed strength to obey “God rather than men” (Ac 5,29).
Looking at the past, we give thanks to Providence today for that test of faithfulness to God and to the Gospel, to the Church and to her Pastors. It was also a test of the responsibility of the nation, of our Christian homeland and of its thousand-year heritage, which despite the many great trials did not suffer destruction or sink into oblivion. It happened this way because you “know and believe the love God has for us”, and you responded always with love to God.
4. “Blessed are they who walk not in the counsel of the wicked . . . but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, who meditate on his law day and night” (Ps 1,1-2).
We have listened to these words of the Psalmist in the short reading at today’s Vespers service. Remain faithful to the experience of the past generations who lived in this land with God in their hearts and prayer on their lips. In Silesia may there ever prevail faith and sound morality, a true Christian spirit and respect for divine law. Preserve as your greatest treasure that which for your ancestors’ was a source of spiritual strength. Your forebears included God in their lives; in him they overcame every manifestation of evil. An eloquent expression of this is the miners’ greeting “God be good to you!”. Keep your hearts always open to the values proclaimed by the Gospel, cherish them; for they define your identity.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I also wanted to let you know that I am aware of the difficulties, fears and hardships which you are now experiencing, the fears and hardships afflicting the work sector in this Diocese and in all of Silesia. I am aware of the dangers which this state of affairs poses especially for many families and for the life of society as a whole. A careful consideration is needed both of the causes and of possible solutions. I have already spoken of this during my pilgrimage to Sosnowiec. Today I address once more all my fellow countrymen in our homeland: build the nation’s future on love of God and love of man, on respect for God’s commandments and on the life of grace! Indeed, happy are they, and happy is the nation, who take delight in the law of the Lord.
The knowledge that God loves us should make us love all men and women, without exception and without separating them into friends and enemies. Love of man consists in desiring what is truly good for each person. It consists also in concern to guarantee this good and to reject every form of evil and injustice. We must strive always and with perseverance to seek the paths of just development for all people, “to make life more human”, as the Council says (Gaudium et Spes GS 38). May love and justice flourish in our country, producing daily results in the life of society. Thanks only to love and justice can this land become a happy home. Without great and authentic love there is no home for man. Even should great successes be achieved in the area of material development, without love and justice he would be condemned to a life without any real meaning.
“Man is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself” (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 24). He has been called to share in God’s life, he has been called to the fulness of grace and truth. His own greatness, the value and dignity of his humanity, he finds precisely in this vocation.
May God who is love be the light of our lives today and in the times to come. May he be the light of our homeland. Build a future worthy of man and his vocation!
I place you, your families and your problems at the feet of our Most Blessed Mother, who is venerated in many shrines in this Diocese and in all of Silesia. May she teach love of God and love of man, as she practised it in her own life.
1041 To all, “God be good to you”.
Wednesday, 16 June 1999
1. “Saints do not fade away. Saints draw life from other Saints and thirst for holiness”.
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
Almost thirty-three years ago I spoke these words at Stary Sacz, during the celebration of the Millennium. In doing so I made reference to a particular circumstance. Despite the inclement weather, the people of the territory of Sacz and the surrounding area had come to this city and that whole great assembly of the People of God, headed by the Cardinal Primate Stefan Wyszynski and the Bishop of Tarnów, Jerzy Ablewicz, prayed to God for the Canonization of Blessed Kinga. How then can I fail to repeat these words on the day when, by the decree of Divine Providence, it has been granted me to celebrate her Canonization, just as two years ago it was granted me to proclaim the sainthood of Queen Hedwig, the Lady of Wawel? Both came to us from Hungary, both entered into our history and have remained in the memory of the nation. Like Hedwig, Kinga has defied the inexorable law of time which erases everything. Centuries have passed, yet the splendour of her holiness has not only not faded, but it shines even more for successive generations. They have not forgotten this daughter of the King of Hungary, Princess of Malopolska (Little Poland), Foundress and Nun of the Convent of Sacz. And this day of her Canonization is a most magnificent proof of this. May God be praised in his Saints!
2. Before following in spirit the pathways of Princess Kinga’s holiness, as a means of thanking God for the work of his grace, I wish to greet all gathered here and the whole Church of the beautiful territory of Tarnow, together with Bishop Wiktor and his Auxiliary Bishops Wladyslaw and Jan, and the beloved Bishop Emeritus Piotr. I greet the President of Hungary and the members of his entourage. I greet all the priests, men and women religious, and in a particular way the Poor Clare Nuns. My cordial greeting also goes to our hosts, the people of Stary Sacz. I know that this city is famous for its attachment to Saint Kinga. Your whole city seems to be a shrine to her. I also greet Nowy Sacz, a city by whose beauty and good functioning which I have always been struck. In my heart I embrace the whole Diocesan community, all families and individuals, all the sick, and everyone taking part in this Liturgy by radio and television. May you be granted every grace by the One who is the the source and goal of all our holiness!
3. “Saints draw life from other Saints.”
In the first reading we heard a prophetic proclamation: “You will shine with a glorious light to all parts of the earth; many nations shall come to you from afar, and the inhabitants of all the ends of the earth, drawn to you by the name of the Lord God” (Tb 13,13, Vulg.). These words of the Prophet refer first of all to Jerusalem, the city marked by the special presence of God in his temple. Yet we know that, by his death and resurrection, “Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (He 9,24), and that this prophecy has been fulfilled in all those who follow him on the same path to the Father. Henceforth it is no longer the light of the temple of Jerusalem, but the splendour of Christ that enlightens the witnesses of his resurrection and draws to God’s holy name the many nations and the inhabitants of all the ends of the earth.
Saint Kinga from birth had experienced in a remarkable way this saving radiance of holiness. For she came into the world in the royal Hungarian family of Bela IV, of the Arpad dynasty. This royal line was most fervent in the life of faith and gave rise to great saints. From it came Saint Stephen, the principal patron of Hungary and the son of Saint Emeric. A special place among the saints of the Arpad family belongs to women: Saint Ladislaa, Saint Elizabeth of Turin, Saint Hedwig of Silesia, Saint Agnes of Prague and finally the sisters of Kinga, Saint Margaret and Blessed Yolanda. Is it not obvious that the light of holiness in her family led Kinga to God’s holy name? How could the example of her saintly parents, brothers and sisters and relatives, not leave a trace in her soul?
The seed of holiness sown in Kinga’s heart in her family home found in Poland good soil for its growth. When she first arrived in Wojnicz in 1239, and then in Sandomierz, she established a warm relationship with the mother of her future husband, Grzymislawa, and with Grzymislawa’s daughter Salomea. Both women were distinguished by deep piety, a life of asceticism and love of prayer, and the reading of Scripture and the lives of the saints. Their friendly company, especially in the first, difficult years of her stay in Poland, had a great influence on Kinga. The ideal of holiness increasingly matured in her heart. Seeking models to imitate, corresponding to her rank, she chose as a special patroness her saintly relative Princess Hedwig of Silesia. She also wanted to hold up to Poland a saint who could become a teacher of love of country and Church to every state and region. Therefore, together with the Bishop of Kraków, Prandota of Bialaczew, she worked tirelessly for the canonization of the martyr of Kraków, Bishop Stanislaus of Szczepanów. A great influence on her spirituality was undoubtedly exercised by Saint Hyacinth, who lived during that time, Blessed Sadok, Blessed Bronislawa, Blessed Salomea, Blessed Yolanda, the sister of Kinga, and all those who created a particular faith-filled environment in the Kraków of those days.
S. John Paul II Homil. 1034