Today, the main ceremonies of the 99th National Health Service Pilgrimage took place at Jasna Góra, under the leadership of Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski. The event gathered representatives from various medical backgrounds and served as a significant occasion to appreciate the efforts and sacrifices of healthcare workers in their daily endeavors.
During the ceremony, gratitude was expressed not only for the care of physical health but also for the care of spiritual well-being. Thanks were given for the heroic fight for life during the pandemic and the assistance provided to Ukrainians. It was emphasized that every healthcare worker should be a good Samaritan, and every patient should be treated as a brother or sister.
Archbishop Jędraszewski noted that despite all the tragedies, difficulties, and suffering, great goodness emerged during the pandemic. He emphasized the need to express gratitude to God for this goodness. The empowering hope provided strength to doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists in delivering assistance to those in need.
The preacher also acknowledged that among the healthcare professionals themselves, many have sacrificed their lives for others. He mentioned that 304 doctors and 257 nurses lost their lives, while thousands fell ill. This tremendous group of people risked their health and even their lives to follow the merciful and compassionate Christ, providing help and showing empathy.
A letter addressed to the participants of the pilgrimage was traditionally sent by the President of the Republic of Poland, Andrzej Duda. In his letter, he expressed gratitude to the medical community for their invaluable service to their compatriots in the relentless fight against suffering, disabilities, and death, as well as their commitment to health prevention. The President also thanked healthcare workers who care for war refugees in our country and the courageous medics who rushed to provide direct assistance to Ukrainians defending their homeland against the aggression of imperial Russia.
During the Holy Mass, the Act of Entrustment of the Health Service to the Blessed Virgin Mary, first pronounced on May 21, 1966, at the initiative of Blessed Cardinal Wyszyński, was renewed. The act emphasized that all the sick are considered brothers and sisters, and every healthcare worker is a good Samaritan providing support, comfort, relief in suffering, and professional medical assistance.
The medical professionals also requested perseverance in safeguarding life from conception to natural death. They brought their dreams of a better organization of the healthcare system in our homeland, as well as aspirations to become professional and respected specialists.
This year’s pilgrimage was organized by medical professionals and the healthcare ministry of the Kraków Archdiocese. It was held under the theme: “I Believe in the Church of Christ.” The pilgrimage was preceded by the National Retreats for the Medical Community.
The first National Doctors’ Pilgrimage to Jasna Góra took place in 1948, marking the informal beginnings of healthcare ministry. In 1956, after being released from internment, Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński commissioned the organization of the national doctors’ pilgrimage to Jasna Góra as part of the Great Novena leading up to the Millennium of Poland’s Baptism. He wanted to acknowledge the doctors as the first line of defense in protecting the lives of the unborn. These pilgrimages, held annually since then, became the impetus for further steps in organizing a separate ministry.
Over the years, the National Healthcare Ministry has established appropriate structures, which were influenced by the socio-political situation. The breakthrough of 1989 brought significant changes in the functioning of the ministry in Poland. Chaplains returned to healthcare institutions, new chapels were built in hospitals and social care homes, and religious orders regained the right to operate their hospitals, which they had been deprived of earlier.