The southern Poland city of Wadowice, hometown of Saint John Paul II, paid tribute to his canonization by filling the town square with thousands of people Sunday.
Karol Wojtyla was born in Wadowice in 1920, and began his studies in Krakow’s Jagiellonian University in 1938. He would become Krakow’s bishop before his election as pope in 1978. A museum dedicated to him and his works opened in Wadowice earlier this year.
“The man of today is so troubled and confused, he is losing hope,” said Father Benedykt Belgrau in a homily during the Mass. “He needs the good tidings of mercy. This great task was taken up by John Paul II.”
Polish President Bronilaw Komorowski traveled to Rome to attend the ceremony, and said the sight of thousands of Polish pilgrims indicated “we are building what’s very much needed in day-to-day life, and not just on special occasions, a sense of community.”
Komorowski added his strongest memories of John Paul II are of “his first visit to Poland (after becoming Pope) during the communist era. It was a breath of hope, a relishing of freedom which existed in us, even if there was no freedom.”
The crowd attending the ceremony in Rome was estimated at between 800,000 and one million people.