7 June 1997
The convent on the Łagiewniki hill in Cracow is well known to the current pope. During the II World War, he passed it everyday on his way to work in the Solvay plant. It is difficult to establish when exactly he was there for the first time. The convent annals record only those events in which he participated, first as a young priest, and then as the chief Shepherd of the Cracow diocese who was interested in the pastoral work of the congregation and the developing cult of the Divine Mercy, in the forms passed on to us by the Blessed Sr. Faustina. On 7 June 1997, the Pope came to this place - as he himself confessed - out of the need of his heart, so as to entrust to the Divine Mercy the plight of the humankind, the Church and his own pontificate, before the grace-working image of the Merciful Jesus and the relics of the Blessed Sr. Faustina.
The Speech by the Holy Father John Paul II
at the Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy in Cracow-Łagiewniki
1.Misericordias Domini in aeternum cantabo (Ps. 89 , 2).
Here I come to this Sanctuary as a pilgrim, so as to join in the everlasting song in praise of the Divine mercy. The song in question was first sung by the Lord's Psalmist who expressed what all the generations preserved and will continue to preserve as the most precious fruit of faith. There is nothing that man needs more than God's mercy - that love which is benovelent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weaknesses to the infinite heights of God's holiness. It is in this very place that one becomes aware of this in a special way. For it was from here that there came from the message of the Divine Mercy which Christ Himself wished to pass on to our generation through the mediation of the Blessed Sr. Faustina. The message in question is clear and understandable to everyone. Everyone can come here, look at the image of the merciful Christ and into His Heart beaming with graces, and hear deep in the soul what the Blessed Sr. Faustina had once heard: Do not fear anything; I am always with you (Diary 613). And if he responds sincerely "Jesus, I Trust in You!", he will find all his fears and anxieties assuaged. In this dialogue, a special bond that sets love free is created between man and Christ. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment ( 1 Jn 4, 18).
The Church reads anew the message of mercy, so as to bring more effectively the light of hope to the generation of the end of the second millenium as well as to the future generations. It never ceases to supplicate God for mercy for every human being. At no time and in no historical period - especially at a moment as critical as our own - can the Church forget the prayer that is a cry for the mercy of God amid the many forms of evil which weigh upon humanity and threaten it (...) The more the human conscience succumbs to secularization, loses its sense of the very meaning of the word "mercy"- the more the Church has the right and the duty to appeal to the God of mercy with "loud cries" (DM, 15). This is precisely why, this Sanctuary has found itself on the route of my pilgrimage. I come here to entrust all the cares of the Church and of the humankind to Merciful Jesus. I come here at the threshold of the third millenium to once again entrust my Peter's mission to Him - "Jesus I Trust in You!". The message of the Divine Mercy has always been close to my heart. In a way, history has incorporated it into the tragic experience of the II World War. In those difficult years, it provided a special kind of support and was an inexhaustible source of hope not only for the citizens of Cracow, but for the entire nation. It was also my own personal experience which I later took with me to the Holy See. It is this very experience which is in a way a characteristic feature of this pontificate. I thank the Divine Providence that I have had the opportunity to contribute personally to the fulfillment of Christ's will by instituting the feast of the Divine Mercy. It is right here, next to the relics of the Blessed Sr. Faustina Kowalska that I thank God for the gift of her beatification. I do not cease in asking God for mercy for us and for the whole world (Chaplet).
2. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy (Mt 5, 7). Dear Sisters! A great task and responsibility rests upon your shoulders. By choosing the Blessed Faustina from among your ranks, Christ had made your congregation the guardian of this place and at the same time, He summoned you to a special kind of apostolate to His mercy. I am asking you to undertake this task. The contemporary man needs your proclamation of mercy; he needs your deeds of mercy and he needs your prayer for mercy. Please do not neglect any of the above dimensions of your apostolate. Do this in unity with the Archbishop of Cracow who is so preoccupied with the issue of worship of the Divine Mercy, and unity with the entire community of the Church, which he is the leader of. Let this common effort bring fruit. Let the Divine Mercy transform human hearts. Let this Sanctuary, which is already well known in many parts of the world, become a center of the cult of the Divine Mercy emanating with graces to the entire Church.
Once again, I ask you for prayers in the intention of the Church as well as for support in my mission at the Holy See. I know that such prayers are continually being said here. For this, I thank you with all my heart. We need these prayers very much: tertio millennio adveniente. I bless with all my heart all of you who are present here as well as all the worshippers of the Divine Mercy.
17 August 2002
Since the February 2002 lasted the spiritual and organizational preparing in sanctuary of the God's Mercy for the visit the Holy Father in Łagiewniki. It were: the prayer, the sacrifice and studying of teaching the Holy Father John Paul II by sisters of Congregation the God's Mother of the Mercy, partners, the Foundation of the Sanctuary of the God's Mercy, the Faustinum association, person in one's care of the Youth Education Centre and pilgrims coming in great numbers here. Because young people a cycle of evangelizing concerts was organised under the password "be rich in the mercy" connected with the short conference and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. A novena was a direct preparation (7-15 August 2002) which made up: prayer in the hour of the Mercy, the chaplet and the novena to the God's Mercy and Holy Masses with the homily to topics taken from the encyclical of John Paul II in misericordia.
After the advertisement, that Holy Father John Paul II will arrive to bless the church built on 8 September 1999, amongst all involved in the expansion huge joy fell. The persons responsible for the course of jobs did a everything in order to prepare the upper church to be ready for consecration. In this period being afire on the building site over 100 workers worked double shifts and in the moment of increasing work this number exceeded 200. Very tight deadlines caused, that rate of jobs - became staggering. In celebrations of devoting the upper church on 17 August 2002 took part over 22 thousands of the faithful those assembled in three places: in the inside of the church (4.000 persons) - sectors VIP, A, B, C, the press sector; on the car park by the pastoral house (3.000 persons) - D sector and on the forecourt (sector D) and along the route of the ride of the pope (15.000 persons). The invitation to celebrations was addressed above all to benefactors of the Foundation of the God's Sanctuary Mercies, builders of the church and guests invited by the Archbishop of the Cracow priest the cardinal of Franciszek Macharski and Congregation of Sisters of the Mother together God's Mercies.
Detailed info about persons invited for consecrating the church in Cracow Łagiewnikach look as follows:
total of benefactors: 8856 persons
total of the guests of honour: 600 persons
builders: 1154 persons
total of persons invited by Congregation of Sisters of the God's Mother of the Mercy: 1550 persons
the number of people from charity work: 1016 persons of 98 charity work and 131 disabled persons
total of representatives of the institution and the organization: 2046 persons
others: of 11 000 persons
It should emphasizing that amongst this number of participants of papal celebrations among others parish priests of the Archdiocese Krakowska were found (418 persons), parish priests of the parish of the God's Mercy and St Faustyny Sisters in Poland (149 persons), workers of Metropolitan Curia in Cracow (107 persons), collecting donations in Łagiewniki and Błonie (boy scouts, nuns and secular - ca 1500 persons). Amongst participants groups will also be present from foreign countries, above all from Hungary, Italy, the USA, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Germany, France, Netherlands, Sweden. Remained benefactors of the Foundation of the Sanctuary of the God's Mercy in the number of 33 thousands were invited for participating in the papal Holy Mass on Błonie. In the association with the visit of the Holy Father in the sanctuary of the God's Mercy benefactors were also invited to the special oratory "expected Guest" on the basis of the drama of Zofia Kossak which was on 17 August 2002 at 21.00 in front of the new church. This oratory wasmade by 150 musicians of the Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra, 10 soloists, two choirs and the folk team "Grojcowianie". That day an also National Group of pilgrims of Hungarians was an important event, in frames which the ceremonial Holy Mass was sent away by representatives of the episcopacy of Hungary in the new church.
The prayer persisted also after the visit of the Holy Father. In Sanctuary ceremonial thanksgiving octave lasted on 17-24 August 2002 for the pilgrimage of John Paul 2 to the Homeland, for consecrating the new church in Sanctuary and for the deed of believing of world the God's Mercy. This thanksgiving lasts still. Unusually a numerous inflow of pilgrims became the evident sign of the significance of caused events to the sanctuary (of 700 000 persons in the period after 17.08.2002). Consecrating the upper church and the increasing number of pilgrims presented all the urgenter Mercies with the Foundation of the God's Sanctuary task like of fastest finishing the remained works connected with the expansion łagiewnickiego sanctuary.
HOMILY OF THE HOLY FATHER JOHN PAUL II ON 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,
You are the sweet hope of sinners"
1. Dear Brothers and Sisters! 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 Łagiewniki, in order to glimpse once more in Christ the face of the Father: "the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation" (2 Cor 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!" (1 Kg 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 Łagiewniki 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" (1 Kg 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, 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, 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.
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,
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.
by the Passion and Resurrection of your Son,
have mercy on us and upon the whole world!!
Greetings at the end of the Mass:
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.
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.
John Paul II, Kraków-Łagiewniki, 17.08.2002