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    Poland celebrates the 100th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's birthday

    Where would Poland and the rest of the world be today if not for the pontificate of Pope John Paul II? Everything began precisely 100 years ago in Wadowice, where on May 18th of 1920 Karol Wojtyła was born. The main celebratory events, although limited due to the coronavirus pandemic, took place in his home town and in Cracow.

    The main program of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Karol Wojtyła has been altered due to the coronavirus epidemic, but that hasn’t stopped the citizens of Wadowice from enjoying the event in their hearts. Already yesterday, a Holy Mass in memory of the Polish pope was held here. Originally, several thousand people, many of them from abroad, were expected to come here, to St. John Paul II’s square in Wadowice, where a huge concert was to take place. These plans, however, were interrupted by COVID-19.

    Nonetheless, the celebrations were very joyful. At 9 am, the city’s mayor awarded the honorary pope’s medals. Children who painted special postcards for the anniversary presented them at the local cultural centre, while the residents of the Wadowice social homes could enjoy a piece of the pope’s cake. At 5 pm, in Wadowice and other Polish cities, many people sang “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore” – the favourite song of pope John Paul II. Moments before 5:30 pm, a hundred white pigeons were released to the sky. The birds symbolise the Holy Spirit and peace, which have been often spoken about by the Polish head of the Catholic Church.

    The anniversary was also honoured by the Polish president and prime minister. President Duda came here, to Wadowice, before 1 pm and laid wreaths in front of the pope’s statue. Some time later, PM Morawiecki arrived and laid flowers as well. He also addressed the spontaneously gathered crowds, saying that pope John Paul II was a truly great man who had his fair share in taking down Communism in Poland and in the entire central-eastern Europe. He added that the Holy Father could be named the Father of the Solidarity movement.

    Pope John Paul II inaugurated his pontificate with the words – “do not be afraid, open wide the doors for Christ”.

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