He may be a lion in winter today, but under St. Pope John Paul II no one had a more vital role than Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwiswz, who next week will be hosting an estimated 1.5 to 1.8 million young people in the city of Krakow for World Youth Day.
If you want a window into how much the legacy and memory of St. Pope John Paul II hangs over the 2016 World Youth Day in Krakow, consider the photo exhibit on mercy on display in the run-up in a small local park next to the Archbishop’s Palace, which contains exactly one shot each of Popes Francis and Benedict.
How many of John Paul II does it feature? A robust 25.
The display is, in a sense, understandable, given that for an average 18-year-old Polish Catholic today, precisely the demographic to which a World Youth Day is designed to appeal, he or she would have been seven years old when John Paul II died.
As one media officer for the 2016 WYD put it to us on Tuesday night, by now John Paul II “is a figure from the history books” for the new generation of Polish youth, something akin to the 11th century St. Stanislaus of Poland as a national hero.
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