After a late night of travelling and midnight feasts, the group was given a free morning, and everyone took full advantage of the late start! Most of our pilgrims took the opportunity to sleep late, although some were woken earlier then they would have liked thanks to some early morning singing from some Brazilian pilgrims staying in the same accommodation as us. Everyone filled up on a huge breakfast and then the group separated for the morning and undertook different activities. Some explored Krakow city centre, other stayed local to the accommodation and others rested in their rooms.
After a morning of separate activities the group met up for lunch ahead of the evening mass. The meeting point was at the cathedral entrance in the city square. It was filled with travelling WYD pilgrims. The different flags, accents and languages were fascinating to observe. The square was completely full and it was the first time the group was able to gain a glimpse of the scale of this week and the atmosphere that will come with that.
The group then had a long walk alongside the other travelling pilgrims to the opening mass. The weather took a turn for the worst and all pilgrims soon became wet and muddy, however this didn’t dampen anybody’s spirits. The mass took place in one of Krakow’s many beautiful fields and green lands. The sheer size and scale was hard to comprehend and it wasn’t until the group arrived at the site that it became obvious how large the scale of this event was. Every blade of grass was covered with a pilgrim and all the nationalities flags waved high in the air.
During the service the crowd was silent and reflective. Listening to every word and learning from all the different speakers. The mass was traditional and delivered in polish, however, there were moments were other languages were used and it acted as a reminder to us of the reach of this festival and the catholic church across the world. There was a beautiful image of different nations pilgrims offering each other the sign of peace in different languages and with different actions.
The mass and the commutes to and from acted as a reminder of the scale of the festival and the huge numbers of young Catholics who are engaged with their faith, want to learn and want to share in the joy with others. As the fist official day of WYD came to a close the group took to opportunity to enjoy a meal together in the square then celebrated the start of the week with dancing and singing at the youth festival. The group then made their way back to the accommodation to get some sleep after a long day and to process exactly what they had witnessed and experienced at the official start of WYD.