Pope begins visit to Poland

 Today Pope Benedict XVI begins his apostolic trip to Poland, the second of his pontificate following last August's visit to Germany. In Poland, from May 25 to 28, he will visit Warsaw, Czestochowa, Krakow, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, and Auschwitz. The Holy Father will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 8.40am, arriving in Warsaw at 11am. Following the welcome ceremony at Warsaw's Okecie airport, he will travel by popemobile to the city's cathedral of St. John - which John Paul II visited five times - where he will hold a meeting with clergy. Following lunch at the archbishop's palace of Miodowa, Benedict XVI will go to the apostolic nunciature. At 5.45pm. he is due to pay a courtesy visit to the president of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, in the presidential palace. Leaving the presidential palace at 6.45pm, he will travel to the Lutheran church of the Most Holy Trinity where he is due to meet with delegates of the seven Churches form the Polish Ecumenical Council - established in 1946 by the Lutheran pastor, Zygmunt Mitchelis - and with representatives of other religions. The Lutheran church of the Most Holy Trinity was built in 1781 in a poor area on the outskirts of Warsaw. In 1939, during the Second World War, its wooden dome was destroyed, to be replaced some years later with a steel one. However, the communist authorities prohibited the use of the church as a place of worship and banned the placement of a cross atop the dome. The building was used as a concert hall. At the end on the Stalinist era, in 1956, the evangelical community was able to recoup its church. Following the ecumenical meeting, the Pope will return to the apostolic nunciature, where he will spend the night. The Pope mentioned his forthcoming apostolic trip to Poland, during his general audience yesterday. After giving thanks to God for "the opportunity of fulfilling a desire I have long held in my heart," the Holy Father invited those present "to accompany me with your prayers on this apostolic trip which I undertake with great hope, and which I entrust to the Virgin Mary, so venerated in Poland. May she guide my steps that I may confirm the beloved Catholic community of Poland in the faith, encouraging it to face the challenges of the present time with incisive evangelical action." "May Mary ensure that the entire nation is granted a renewed springtime of faith and civil progress, while conserving the memory of my great predecessor." Source: VIS

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