S. John Paul II Homil. 1373




Guatemala City, Tuesday July 30, 2002

1. "Come O blessed of my Father ... ‘Truly I say to you as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me’" (Mt 25,34). How can we fail to believe that these words of Jesus, which will mark the end of human history, can also be applied to Brother Pedro, who with such generosity dedicated himself to the poorest and the most abandoned?

Today, in adding Brother Pedro de San José de Betancurt to the list of the Saints, I am convinced of the present-day importance of his message. The new Saint, travelling with only his faith and his confidence in God, sailed across the Atlantic to care for the poor and indigenous people of America: first in Cuba, then in Honduras and finally in this blessed land of Guatemala, his "promised land".

2. I cordially thank Archbishop Rodolfo Quezada of Guatemala for his kind words, introducing me to these beloved ecclesial communities. I greet the Cardinals, the Bishops of Guatemala, the Bishop of Tenerife and those who have come from other parts of the American Continent.

I also greet the priests and the consecrated men and women with great esteem, and offer a special and affectionate greeting to the Bethlehemite Brothers, and the Bethlehemite Sisters, born from the inspiration of Mother Encarnación Rosal. She was the first Guatemalan "Blessed" and the reformer of the Beguine Convent where she established her foundation to restore the fundamental values of Brother Pedro’s followers.

1374 I am particularly grateful for the presence at this celebration of the Presidents of the Republics of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, and for the presence of the Prime Minister of Belize and of the other civil Authorities. I also appreciate the participation in this ceremony of the Official Mission that the Spanish Government has wished to send for this happy occasion.

I would also like to express my appreciation and closeness to the many indigenous people. The Pope does not forget you and, admiring the values of your cultures, encourages you to overcome with hope the sometimes difficult situations you experience. Build the future responsibly, work for the harmonious progress of your peoples! You deserve all respect and have the right to fulfil yourselves completely, in justice, integral development and peace.

3. "Strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith ... rooted and grounded in love" (
Ep 3,16-17). Saint Paul’s words, which we have heard today, show how the inner encounter with Christ transforms the human being, filling him with mercy for his neighbour.

Already in the land of his birth, as in every phase of his life, Brother Pedro was a deeply prayerful man, especially here where, at the hermitage of Calvary, he diligently sought God’s will at every moment.

Thus he is an outstanding example for Christians today, whom he reminds that training in holiness "calls for a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer" (Novo millennio ineunte NM 32). I therefore renew my exhortation to all the Christian communities of Guatemala and other countries to be authentic schools of prayer where all activity is centred on prayer. An intensely devout life always bears abundant fruit.

Brother Pedro modelled his spirituality in this way, particularly in contemplation of the mysteries of Bethlehem and of the Cross. If, in the birth and childhood of Jesus, he immersed himself deeply in the fundamental event of the Incarnation of the Word — which led him to discover spontaneously, as it were, the face of God in man — then, in meditating on the Cross, he found the strength to practise mercy heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.

4. Today we are witnesses of the profound truth of the words of the Psalm we have just recited: the righteous person "will not be afraid.... He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures for ever (Ps 112,8-9). Justice that endures is justice which is practised humbly, compassionately sharing in the fate of the brethren, sowing the spirit of pardon and mercy everywhere.

Pedro de Betancurt was distinguished precisely by the humble spirit and austere life with which he practised mercy. The Apostle Paul’s recommendation went straight to his servant’s heart: "Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men" (Col 3,23). Thus he was truly a brother to all who lived in misfortune and gave himself with tenderness and immense love to their salvation. In this way, throughout his life, his deeds showed his dedication to the sick at the little hospital of Our Lady of Bethlehem, the cradle of the Bethlehemite Order.

Today, the new Saint represents also an urgent appeal to practise mercy in modern society, especially when so many are hoping for a helping hand. Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness.

5. Brother Pedro personifies "a heritage which must not be lost; we should always be thankful for it and we should renew our resolve to imitate it" (Novo millennio ineunte NM 7). This heritage should inspire in Christians and in all citizens a desire to transform the human community into a great family, in which social, political and economic relations may be worthy of man, and in which the dignity of the person is promoted, with the effective recognition of his inalienable rights.

I would like to end by recalling how devotion to the Blessed Virgin always accompanied Brother Pedro in his life of devotion and mercy. May she guide us too, so that enlightened by the example of the "man who was charity", we may reach her Son, Jesus. Amen.

1375 Before the Holy Father gave the last blessing, he gave a warm farewell to Guatemala.

Before I leave this wonderful place, the place of the canonization of the first saint of Guatemala and Tenerife, I desire to tell you that once again you have made a deep impression on me. Thank you, thank you, Guatemala. With your faith, with your cordiality, with your streets so beautifully decorated. Thank you because behind every cross there is your heart. Be faithful to God, to the Church, to your Catholic tradition, inspired by the example of the holy Brother Peter. Guatemala always be faithful, under the protection of the Holy Christ of Esquipulas. Guatemala, I carry you in my heart.

Praised be Jesus Christ!




Mexico City, Wednesday July 31, 2002

1. "I thank you, Father ... that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was your gracious will" (Mt 11,25-26).

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These words of Jesus in today's Gospel are a special invitation to us to praise and thank God for the gift of the first indigenous Saint of the American Continent.

With deep joy I have come on pilgrimage to this Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Marian heart of Mexico and of America, to proclaim the holiness of Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, the simple, humble Indian who contemplated the sweet and serene face of Our Lady of Tepeyac, so dear to the people of Mexico.

2. I am grateful for the kind words of Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, Archbishop of Mexico City, and for the warm hospitality of the people of this Primatial Archdiocese: my cordial greeting goes to everyone. I also greet with affection Cardinal Ernesto Corripio Ahumada, Archbishop Emeritus of Mexico City, and the other Cardinals, as well as the Bishops of Mexico, of America, of the Philippines and of other places in the world. I am likewise particularly grateful to the President and the civil Authorities for their presence at this celebration.

Today I address a very affectionate greeting to the many indigenous people who have come from the different regions of the country, representing the various ethnic groups and cultures which make up the rich, multifaceted Mexican reality. The Pope expresses his closeness to them, his deep respect and admiration, and receives them fraternally in the Lord's name.

3. What was Juan Diego like? Why did God look upon him? The Book of Sirach, as we have heard, teaches us that God alone "is mighty; he is glorified by the humble" (cf . Sir Si 3,20). Saint Paul's words, also proclaimed at this celebration, shed light on the divine way of bringing about salvation: "God chose what is low and despised in the world ... so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" (1Co 1,28).

1376 It is moving to read the accounts of Guadalupe, sensitively written and steeped in tenderness. In them the Virgin Mary, the handmaid "who glorified the Lord" (Lc 1,46), reveals herself to Juan Diego as the Mother of the true God. As a sign, she gives him precious roses, and as he shows them to the Bishop, he discovers the blessed image of Our Lady imprinted on his tilma.

"The Guadalupe Event", as the Mexican Episcopate has pointed out, "meant the beginning of evangelization with a vitality that surpassed all expectations. Christ's message, through his Mother, took up the central elements of the indigenous culture, purified them and gave them the definitive sense of salvation" (14 May 2002, No. 8). Consequently Guadalupe and Juan Diego have a deep ecclesial and missionary meaning and are a model of perfectly inculturated evangelization.

4. "The Lord looks down from heaven, he sees all the sons of men" (Ps 33,13), we recited with the Psalmist, once again confessing our faith in God, who makes no distinctions of race or culture. In accepting the Christian message without forgoing his indigenous identity, Juan Diego discovered the profound truth of the new humanity, in which all are called to be children of God. Thus he facilitated the fruitful meeting of two worlds and became the catalyst for the new Mexican identity, closely united to Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose mestizo face expresses her spiritual motherhood which embraces all Mexicans. This is why the witness of his life must continue to be the inspiration for the building up of the Mexican nation, encouraging brotherhood among all its children and ever helping to reconcile Mexico with its origins, values and traditions.

The noble task of building a better Mexico, with greater justice and solidarity, demands the cooperation of all. In particular, it is necessary today to support the indigenous peoples in their legitimate aspirations, respecting and defending the authentic values of each ethnic group. Mexico needs its indigenous peoples and these peoples need Mexico!

Beloved bothers and sisters of every ethnic background of Mexico and America, today, in praising the Indian Juan Diego, I want to express to all of you the closeness of the Church and the Pope, embracing you with love and encouraging you to overcome with hope the difficult times you are going through.

5. At this decisive moment in Mexico's history, having already crossed the threshold of the new millennium, I entrust to the powerful intercession of Saint Juan Diego the joys and hopes, the fears and anxieties of the beloved Mexican people, whom I carry in my heart.

Blessed Juan Diego, a good, Christian Indian, whom simple people have always considered a saint! We ask you to accompany the Church on her pilgrimage in Mexico, so that she may be more evangelizing and more missionary each day. Encourage the Bishops, support the priests, inspire new and holy vocations, help all those who give their lives to the cause of Christ and the spread of his Kingdom.

Happy Juan Diego, true and faithful man! We entrust to you our lay brothers and sisters so that, feeling the call to holiness, they may imbue every area of social life with the spirit of the Gospel. Bless families, strengthen spouses in their marriage, sustain the efforts of parents to give their children a Christian upbringing. Look with favour upon the pain of those who are suffering in body or in spirit, on those afflicted by poverty, loneliness, marginalization or ignorance. May all people, civic leaders and ordinary citizens, always act in accordance with the demands of justice and with respect for the dignity of each person, so that in this way peace may be reinforced.

Beloved Juan Diego, "the talking eagle"! Show us the way that leads to the "Dark Virgin" of Tepeyac, that she may receive us in the depths of her heart, for she is the loving, compassionate Mother who guides us to the true God. Amen.

After the celebration, before imparting the final blessing the Holy Father said:

At the end of the canonization of Juan Diego, I want to renew my greeting to all of you who have been able to take part, some in this basilica, others in the nearby areas and many others by means of radio and television. I warmly thank all those I have met in the streets for their affection. In this new saint you have a marvellous example of a just and upright man, a loyal son of the Church, docile to his Pastors, who deeply loved the Virgin and was a faithful disciple of Jesus. May he be a model for you who are so attached to him, and may he intercede for Mexico so that it may always be faithful! Take to all Mexicans the message of this celebration and the Pope's greeting and love for them all!




Mexico City, Thursday August 1, 2002

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness'sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (
Mt 5,10). In the Gospel Beatitudes, we find this final exhortation not to be discouraged at the persecutions which the Church has faced from the very beginning. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus promises true happiness to those who are poor in spirit, who mourn or who are meek; and also to those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who act with mercy or are pure of heart.

Faced with the human suffering that accompanies the journey of faith, Saint Peter urges: "Rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed" (1P 4,13). With this conviction, Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Ángeles faced martyrdom, remaining faithful to their devotion to the true, living God and rejecting idols.

As they were being tortured, they were invited to renounce their Catholic faith and save themselves. But they answered bravely: "Once we have professed Baptism, we shall always follow the true religion": a beautiful example of how nothing, not even our life, should be put before our baptismal commitment. This is the same example given by the early Christians, who,born to new life through Baptism, abandoned all forms of idolatry (cf. Tertullian, De baptismo, 12,15).

2. I greet with affection the Cardinals and Bishops who have gathered in this Basilica, and in particular Archbishop Héctor González Martínez of Oaxaca, and the priests, religious and lay faithful, especially those who have come from Oaxaca, the birthplace of the new "Blesseds" where their memory is still very much alive.

Your land is a rich mixture of cultures. The Gospel arrived there in 1529 with the Dominican Fathers who used the native languages and the manners and customs of the local communities. Thus your land came to know God in the local languages. These two great martyrs stand out among the fruit of this Christian seed.

3. In the second reading, St Peter has reminded us that if someone "suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but under that name let him glorify God" (1P 4,16). Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Ángeles, who shed their blood for Christ, are true martyrs of the faith. Like the Apostle Paul, they could have asked themselves: "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?" (Rm 8,35).

These two indigenous Christians, whose personal and family life was irreproachable, suffered martyrdom for their fidelity to the Catholic faith, happy to have been baptized. They are an example to the lay faithful, who are called to sanctify themselves in the ordinary circumstances of everyday life.

4. With this beatification, the Church emphasizes the mission to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples. The new "Blesseds", fruit of the holiness of the First Evangelization among the Zapotec Indians, encourage indigenous people today to appreciate their cultures and languages, and above all their dignity as children of God. This dignity must be respected by others in the context of the Mexican nation, made up of peoples of many different origins but willing to build a common family in solidarity and justice.

The two "Blesseds" are an example of how, without regarding one's ancestral customs as myths, one can reach God without renouncing one's own culture but letting oneself be enlightened by the light of Christ, which renews the religious spirit of the best popular traditions.

1378 5. "The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad" (Ps 125,3). With the Psalmist's words, our hearts are filled with joy, for God has blessed the Church of Oaxaca and the Mexican people with two of their children who today are raised to the glory of the altar. Exemplary in carrying out their public duties, they are a model for everyone, in the little villages or in the large social structures, whose duty it is to promote the common good with great care and selflessness.

Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Ángeles, husbands and fathers of families, and men whose conduct - as their fellow citizens recognized at the time - was blameless, remind Mexican families today of the greatness of their vocation, the value of fidelity and love, and the generous acceptance of life.

May the Church therefore rejoice, for with these new "Blesseds" she has received clear proof of God's love for us (cf. Preface II of the Saints). May the Christian community of Oaxaca and the whole of Mexico also rejoice, for the Almighty has looked upon two of their sons.

6. Before the sweet face of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who has been a constant support of the faith of her Mexican children, let us renew the commitment to evangelization which also distinguished Juan Bautista and Jacinto de los Ángeles. Let us enable all the Christian communities to share in this task, so that they may proclaim their faith with enthusiasm and pass it on in its entirety to future generations. Evangelize by strengthening the bonds of fraternal communion and by witnessing to your faith by an exemplary life, in the family, at work and in social relations! Seek the Kingdom of God and his justice here on earth through effective, brotherly solidarity with the neediest and the marginalized (cf. Mt Mt 25,34-35)! Be the builders of hope for all society!

Let us express to our Mother in heaven the joy we feel at seeing two children of hers raised to the altar, asking her at the same time to bless, console and help the beloved Mexican people and all America, as she always has from this Shrine of Tepeyac.

At the end of the Celebration, before the final blessing, the Pope commented.

Here I have felt your veneration and the chance to return has been the cause of great spiritual happiness for me, for which I thank God and Mary. Thanks also to all of you who have prepared my visit, taking care of all the details. Thanks to all of you who with great affection have welcomed me in the streets of the city, to those who have come from far away, to those who listened and welcomed the message I leave you, to those who pray so much for my ministry as successor of St Peter. As I get ready to leave this blessed land, what comes from the heart is what the popular song says in Spanish: "I go but I do not leave. I go but I will be absent, then, even if I go, in my heart I stay'. Mexico! Mexico! beautiful Mexico, God bless you!



Kraków-Lagiewniki, 17 August 2002

"O inconceivable and unfathomable Mercy of God,
Who can worthily adore you and sing your praises?
O greatest attribute of God Almighty,
1379 You are the sweet hope of sinners"
(Diary, 951).

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Today I repeat these simple and straightforward words of Saint Faustina, in order to join her and all of you in adoring the inconceivable and unfathomable mystery of God’s mercy. Like Saint Faustina, we wish to proclaim that apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind. We desire to repeat with faith: Jesus, I trust in you!

This proclamation, this confession of trust in the all-powerful love of God, is especially needed in our own time, when mankind is experiencing bewilderment in the face of many manifestations of evil. The invocation of God’s mercy needs to rise up from the depth of hearts filled with suffering, apprehension and uncertainty, and at the same time yearning for an infallible source of hope. That is why we have come here today, to this Shrine of Lagiewniki, in order to glimpse once more in Christ the face of the Father: "the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation" (
2Co 1,3). With the eyes of our soul, we long to look into the eyes of the merciful Jesus, in order to find deep within his gaze the reflection of his inner life, as well as the light of grace which we have already received so often, and which God holds out to us anew each day and on the last day.

2. We are about to dedicate this new church to the Mercy of God. Before doing so, I wish to offer heartfelt thanks to those who contributed to its construction. In a special way I thank Cardinal Franciszek, who has put so much effort into this undertaking as a sign of his personal devotion to the Divine Mercy. My thoughts turn with affection to the Sisters of the Merciful Mother of God, whom I thank for their work in spreading the message left behind by Saint Sister Faustina. I greet the Cardinals and Bishops of Poland, headed by the Cardinal Primate, as well as the Bishops coming from various parts of the world. I rejoice in the presence of the diocesan and religious priests, and the seminarians.

My cordial greeting goes to all those taking part in this celebration, especially the representatives of the Foundation of the Shrine of Divine Mercy who oversaw the work of construction, as well as the builders involved in the various projects. I know that many of those present offered generous material support to the work of construction. I pray that God will reward their magnanimity and their commitment by his blessing!

3. Brothers and Sisters! As we dedicate this new church, we too can ask the question which troubled King Solomon when he consecrated the Temple of Jerusalem as the house of God: "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house which I have built!" (1R 8,27). Yes, at first glance, to bind certain "places" to God’s presence might seem inappropriate. We can never forget that time and space belong to God in their entirety. Yet even though time and the entire world may be considered his "temple", God has chosen certain times and places to enable people to experience in a special way his presence and his grace. Impelled by their sense of faith, people journey to these places, confident that there they will truly find themselves in the presence of God.

In this same spirit of faith I have come to Lagiewniki to dedicate this new church. I am convinced that this is the special place chosen by God to sow the grace of his mercy. I pray that this church will always be a place where the message of God’s merciful love is proclaimed; a place of conversion and repentance; a place for the celebration of the Eucharist; a fountain of mercy; a place of prayer and of constant appeals for mercy for ourselves and for the whole world. I pray in the words of Solomon: "Have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his supplication, O Lord my God, hearkening to the cry and to the prayer which thy servant prays before you this day; that your eyes may be open night and day towards this house... Hearken to the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray in this place. Hear in heaven, your dwelling place; and when you hear, forgive" (1R 8,28-30).

4. "But the hour is coming, and now is, when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him" (Jn 4,23). When we read these words of the Lord Jesus here in the Shrine of Divine Mercy, we are particularly aware that no one can come here except in Spirit and truth. It is the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and the Spirit of Truth, who guides us along the ways of Divine Mercy. By convincing the world "concerning sin and righteousness and judgement" (Jn 16,8), he also makes known the fullness of salvation in Christ. This "convincing" concerning sin is doubly related to the Cross of Christ. On the one hand, the Holy Spirit enables us, through Christ’s Cross, to acknowledge sin, every sin, in the full dimension of evil which it contains and inwardly conceals. On the other hand, the Holy Spirit permits us, again through the Christ’s Cross, to see sin in the light of the mysterium pietatis, that is, of the merciful and forgiving love of God (cf. Dominum et vivificantem DEV 32).

Consequently, this "convincing concerning sin" also becomes a conviction that sin can be laid aside and that man can be restored to his dignity as a son beloved of God. Indeed, the Cross "is the most profound condescension of God to man [...]. The Cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man’s earthly existence" (Dives in misericordia DM 8). The cornerstone of this Shrine will always be a reminder of this truth, for it was brought here from Mount Calvary, as if from beneath the Cross on which Jesus Christ triumphed over sin and death.

1380 I firmly believe that this new church will always be a place where people will come before God in Spirit and truth. They will come with the trust which accompanies all those who humbly open their hearts to the working of God’s merciful love, to that love which is stronger than even the greatest sin. Here, in the fire of divine love, human hearts will burn with desire for conversion, and whoever looks for hope will find comfort.

5. "Eternal Father, I offer to you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, for our sins and those of the whole world; by the sufferings of his Passion, have mercy upon us and upon the whole world" (Diary, 476). Upon us and upon the whole world ... How greatly today’s world needs God’s mercy! In every continent, from the depth of human suffering, a cry for mercy seems to rise up. Where hatred and the thirst for revenge dominate, where war brings suffering and death to the innocent, there the grace of mercy is needed in order to settle human minds and hearts and to bring about peace. Wherever respect for life and human dignity are lacking, there is need of God’s merciful love, in whose light we see the inexpressible value of every human being. Mercy is needed in order to ensure that every injustice in the world will come to an end in the splendour of truth.

Today, therefore, in this Shine, I wish solemnly to entrust the world to Divine Mercy. I do so with the burning desire that the message of God’s merciful love, proclaimed here through Saint Faustina, may be made known to all the peoples of the earth and fill their hearts with hope. May this message radiate from this place to our beloved homeland and throughout the world. May the binding promise of the Lord Jesus be fulfilled: from here there must go forth "the spark which will prepare the world for his final coming" (cf. Diary, 1732).

This spark needs to be lighted by the grace of God. This fire of mercy needs to be passed on to the world. In the mercy of God the world will find peace and mankind will find happiness! I entrust this task to you, dear Brothers and Sisters, to the Church in Kraków and Poland, and to all the votaries of Divine Mercy who will come here from Poland and from throughout the world. May you be witnesses to mercy!

6. God, merciful Father,
in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love
and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,
We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman.

Bend down to us sinners,
heal our weakness,
conquer all evil,
1381 and grant that all the peoples of the earth
may experience your mercy.
In You, the Triune God,
may they ever find the source of hope.

Eternal Father,
by the Passion and Resurrection of your Son,
have mercy on us and upon the whole world!


At the end of the Mass, before the final blessing, the Holy Father made these personal remarks:

At the end of this solemn liturgy, I desire to say that many of my personal memories are tied to this place. During the Nazi occupation, when I was working in the Solvay factory near here, I used to come here. Even now I recall the street that goes from Borek Falecki to Debniki that I took every day going to work on the different turns with the wooden shoes on my feet. They're the shoes that we used to wear then. How was it possible to imagine that one day the man with the wooden shoes would consecrate the Basilica of the Divine Mercy at Lagiewniki of Kraków.

1382 I rejoice for the construction of this beautiful shrine dedicated to the Divine Mercy. I entrust to the care of Cardinal Macharski and to the whole Archdiocese of Kraków and to the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy the material, and especially, the spiritual upkeep of the shrine. May this collaboration in the work of spreading the devotion of the Merciful Jesus give blessed fruit in the hearts of the faithful in Poland and in the whole world.

May the merciful God bless abundantly all the pilgrims who come and who will come here in the future.



Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski

Jan Balicki

Jan Beyzym

Sancja Szymkowiak

Blonie, Kraków, 18 August 2002

"This is my commandment,
that you love one another as I have loved you" (Jn 15,2).

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. The words of Jesus which we just heard are closely related to the theme of today’s liturgical assembly in Blonie in Kraków: "God, rich in mercy". This phrase in a way captures the entire truth about the love of God which has redeemed humanity. "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 together with Christ" (Ep 2,4-5). The fullness of this love was revealed in the sacrifice of the Cross. For "greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15,13). Here is the measure of God’s love! Here is the measure of God’s mercy!

Once we recognize this truth, we become aware that Christ’s call to love others even as he has loved us calls all of us to that same measure. We feel in some sense impelled to make our lives a daily offering by showing mercy to our brothers and sisters, drawing upon the gift of God’s merciful love. We realize that God, in showing us mercy, calls upon us to become witnesses to mercy in today’s world.

2. The call to be witnesses of mercy resounds with particular eloquence here, in my beloved Kraków, dominated by the Shrine of Divine Mercy of Lagiewniki and its new church which yesterday I had the joy of consecrating. Here this call sounds familiar, for it appeals to the age-old tradition of the City, which has always been known for its readiness to assist those in need. We cannot forget that this tradition includes the numerous Saints and Beati – priests, consecrated persons and laity – who devoted their lives to works of mercy. Beginning with Bishop Stanislaus, Queen Hedwig, John of Kety and Piotr Skarga, and continuing to Brother Albert, Angela Salawa and Cardinal Sapieha, this heritage of mercy has been passed down by generations of Christians in this City over many centuries. Today this heritage has been placed in our hands and it must not be forgotten.

I thank Cardinal Franciszek Macharski whose words of greeting have reminded us of this tradition. I am grateful for the invitation to visit my dear Kraków and for the hospitality offered to me. I greet everyone present, beginning with the Cardinals and the Bishops, and all those who share in this Eucharist through radio and television.

I greet the whole of Poland. In spirit I retrace the luminous journey by which Saint Faustina Kowalska was being prepared to receive the message of mercy – from Warsaw, on to Plock, Vilnius and finally Kraków – and I recall all those who cooperated with the Apostle of Mercy on that journey. I embrace with affection my countrymen, particularly the suffering and the sick; those struggling with various difficulties, the unemployed, the homeless, the elderly and the lonely, and families with many children. I assure them of my spiritual closeness and I accompany them constantly in my prayer. My greeting also goes to my countrymen throughout the world. I also offer a heartfelt greeting to the pilgrims who have come here from various countries in Europe and from throughout the world.

S. John Paul II Homil. 1373