I would so willingly embrace each one of you!
Around 800 sick and disabled people, together with their carers gathered in the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Lagiewniki, which the Pope visited on the way from Kalwaria Zebrzydowska to Krakow. A few minutes past 1 pm the Holy Father crossed the conventual gate. He was greeted by the custodian of the Shrine Bishop Jan Zajac and Superior General of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy, Mother Gracjana Szewc.
The Holy Father prayed at the relics of the Apostle of Divine Mercy, St. Faustina, and before the miraculous image of the Merciful Jesus painted by Adolf Hyla. He received relics of St. Faustina from Mother Gracjana and imparted his apostolic blessing on the sisters from the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy gathered in the conventual chapel.
Then Benedict XVI went to the Shrine of the Divine Mercy. Before he entered the basilica he had blessed John Paul II Monument, placed on the tower of the sanctuary.
The Holy Father was welcomed by Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz. The Pontiff remarked that faced with human frailty and sickness we encounter two mysteries: the mystery of human suffering and the mystery of Divine Mercy.
Addressing the sick directly, Benedict XVI underlined that they are most closely united to the Cross of Christ, and at the same time 'are the most eloquent witnesses of God's mercy. Through you and through your suffering, he bows down towards humanity with love.' In conclusion he confessed 'I would so willingly embrace each one of you. But since this is impossible, I draw you spiritually to my heart, and I impart my Blessing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.'
After the meeting with the sick Benedict XVI went to the Chapel of Perpetual Adoration, where he prayed before the Most Blessed Sacrament and entered his signature in a Commemorative Book. In the chapel there is a fire blessed by John Paul II. This is a symbol of the fire of Divine Mercy, which all the pilgrims who arrive at Lagiewniki are obliged to carry to the world.
Monument to John Paul II
The Holy Father Benedict XVI blessed John Paul II Monument, placed on the tower of the Divine Mercy Shrine. When the 77-meter high tower was designed in 1999 there were plans to place a sculpture of John Paul II there. It was placed on a boat-shaped cornerstone at the height of 6.5 m. The sculpture presents John Paul II as Great Steersman of the Church, with his robe blown by the wind, standing in front of the boat with his cross-crosier, the sign of the Promotor of Faith, in one hand and a dove, symbolising him as indefatigable advocate of peace, in his second hand that is raised upwards. The figure of the Holy Father, which is 4.20 m high, is directed towards the convent and chapel where Karol Wojtyla had prayed during World War II as a worker at Solvay. The Holy Father looks at far, yet not seen horizons. The blown robes resemble wings, which makes the figure even more symbolic. The artist studied the face of John Paul II looking at his photos taken during his most energetic period of life; 'it expresses goodness, strength, and decisiveness and at the same time we can recognise his friendly smile', says Witold Ceckiewicz, the author of the sculpture. The other sculptors were Wincenty Chlipala and Piotr Chwastarz and the 1.6 ton bronze cast was made in the workshop of Piotr Piszczkiewicz.