WYD2016: A pilgrimage to Palmiry

Thursday morning I arrived in Warsaw (Poland), invited by the Consolata Missionaries who gathered the Consolata youth from the different continents for the World Youth Day (WYD)

We are 136 people coming from Italy, Kenya, Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Colombia and Poland. The group includes 17 priests, 3 seminarians and... one bishop.

As soon as I landed in Warsaw I joined them for a tour of the place and a concert organised by the Archdiocese. Never thought I would be back home at midnight but it was worth being with them and start enjoying the spirit of the WYD.

Today, instead, we went on pilgrimage to Palmiry. Thought of sharing with you the importance of the place:
"Palmiry is a village nearby Warsaw that have become known – sadly – as one of the most infamous in sites of the Nazi crimes Poland. This is where from December 1939 to July 1941 secret executions were held during which 1757 people were shot.
The aim of the German occupants was to kill the people who might become the leaders of the Underground Poland (Polska Podziemna). Therefore, the majority of the victims shot during the secret executions were the representatives of the Polish intelligentsia. The victims were brought there from various prisons in Warsaw, mostly from the so-called Pawiak (a prison in Warsaw which took its name from that of a street on which it stood), and shot at the previously prepared collective graves. A forest was planted to hid the place of execution, as the crimes were intended never to be revealed. The information of the crimes, however, were revealed, mostly thanks to foresters. In 1946 the corpses of the victims were exhumed. Unfortunately, only 400 from among almost 2000 victims of the executions were identified."

We walked 12 km through the forest. It took us about three hours. We were organised in groups according to the different languages so that we could sing, pray and reflect together (led by one of the priests) on the meaning of a pilgrimage, remembering our past and coming to know better the history of the people who are welcoming us these days.

The presence of this 2000 tombs was for us an invitation to remember but also to pray for peace in a world marked still today by many other wars and situations of violence.

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Click on the photo below for more photos of these days in Warsaw



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Bishop of the Diocese of Manzini (Swaziland)

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