THE SPARKLE OF MERCY CAME OUT FROM HERE
MARIA FORTUNA-SUDOR: - In 1997 John Paul II officially arrived at Łagiewniki. How do Bishop remember this meeting?
BISHOP JAN ZAJĄC: - Since that day I have two kinds of the attitude of the Holy Father John Paul II in my eyes, which are in my heart and memory. The first one is a pilgrim carrying chores of the Church pastor on his back, kneeling in front of the image of Merciful Jesus and looking at His radiating heart, entrusting his ministry and all concerns of the Church and the world – he calls: ‘Jesus, I trust you!’. In my opinion, it was a return onto the route of mercy by a student, worker, priest, bishop and cardinal who joins the immemorial singing to worship Divine Mercifulness.
– And what about the second attitude?
– I will never forget John Paul II, who, with his face full of prayer, addressed everyone present in the chapel of the Convent of Sisters of Merciful Our Lady, that is, priests and pilgrims and gave a testimony about a dialogue carried out with merciful God a moment earlier in that place and later he called all of us for undertaking apostolate of mercy through giving a testimony about mercy, through deeds of mercy and a fervent prayer for mercy. This message was addressed to everybody, but I took it to myself particularly. Especially that the Holy Father gave a task which was building a new church. At that time he blessed a cornerstone from Golgotha and somehow acknowledged the mockup of the future basilica with his signature.
– Probably on this mockup a passage was marked between the unfinished basilica and empty White Seas at that time, wasn’t it?
– That is true. Today the route between two sanctuaries is taken by millions of pilgrims but at that time it was a vision that in this place something would appear. And as we know, today on the White Seas there is a sanctuary of this pilgrim – Pope who arrived in Łagiewniki in 1997.
– In 2002 the Holy Father consecrated the basilica. Your Excellency was the host of the sanctuary then to whom John Paul II had given a particular role…
– On that day in August 2002, together with thousands of pilgrims in Łagiewniki, together with millions of viewers all over the world, I was honoured and pleased to be a witness of two miracles. The first one was the excellent church built so quickly, which opened its door to all people looking for God rich in mercy. The second miraculous sign of God’s love was the presence of the steadfast pilgrim, the Apostle of Mercy, who did consecration of the basilica and entrusted the world to Divine Mercy. It was at that time when, as John Paul II said, lights from the tower in Łagiewniki were lit and which remind the rays from the picture of Merciful Jesus and throw a spiritual brightness on whole Poland and the whole world. These lights point to a particular place chosen by God who gives graces and His mercy.
– What is the sanctuary in Łagiewniki for Poland and the world?
– This is a place of proclaiming God’s love, a place of conversion and penance, celebrating the Eucharist Sacrifice and steadfast begging for mercy for us and the whole world. When the Holy Father was saying his last farewell to Homeland, he wished all of us giving the fire of mercy to the whole world. And this is a testament left for us. We are supposed to fulfill it in the brightness of the image of Merciful Jesus.
– Also Benedict XVI made a pilgrimage to the sanctuary….
– This meeting with the ill, the disabled and their carers was an excellent catechesis about the secret of God’s hands and human hands. In a short but also a deep and friendly speech the Holy Father showed human hands marked with suffering of the body and the spirit, matched with Christ’s hands and radiating with Divine mercy through it. He emphasized that hands of people helping sufferers and the ill are prolongation of God’s hands. I believe that this catechesis still exists and brings fruits.
– It seems to me that the sanctuary in Łagiewniki attracts disabled people and their carers.
– I agree with this opinion. I think that this meeting with Benedict XVI, his speech which I sometimes call a small pill containing valuable and deep content, was and is very important, especially for carers of ill, suffering people. The Pope emphasized the valuable role of these contemporary Samaritans! This is another entering into the secret of suffering, into mercy shown to sufferers but also showing mercy to those who serve to other people.
– And how does Excellency comment on the fact that another pope is making a pilgrimage to the world Centre of Divine Mercy?
– I would like to note the message addressed by pope Francis to participants of the forthcoming World Youth Days. The Holy Father discovered the secret of Divine Mercy as an invigorating stream of forgiveness and grace which morally revives us and brings back our youth of spirit. Because it was the teaching of both St. Sister Faustine and St. John Paul II. In his message to the youth the Holy Father wrote: ‘Merciful Jesus, presented in the image worshipped by God’s people in the sanctuary devoted to Him in Cracow, is waiting for you. He trusts you and relies on you!’ So, pope Francis is arriving in Łagiewniki to show the young a particular place and encourage them to look at Merciful Jesus’ eyes, as this look at eyes may change a man’s life and treat wounds of human souls and satisfy the deepest desires of our hearts.