After three years of planning, World Youth Day 2016 begins this week in Kraków. Organizers expect the event will draw more than two million people from around the world. Poland’s archdioceses and dioceses have pledged to offer accommodations for over 373,000 foreign visitors. The festive gathering of youth and young adults represents the chance to share in prayer, worship, and a celebration of the Catholic faith. From Pope Francis to dancing nuns, Catholic leaders will welcome everyone in attendance.
A film about the Polish Saint Maximilian Kolbe (1894 – 1941) is in final production by a Mexican film and production company. The company plans to premier the film next summer at the 2016 Catholic World Youth Day in Krakow. On July 31, 1941 the humble Catholic priest volunteered to take another man’s place who was sentenced to die by starvation. Pope John Paul II canonized Father Kolbe as a martyr of charity on October 10, 1982.
After the outbreak of World War II and invasion of Poland, Father Maximillian Kolbe sheltered refugees including 2,000 Jews whom he hid from Nazi persecution in his friary. Germans arrested him on February 17, 1941 and imprisoned him first in the notorious Pawiak Prison in Warsaw, then transferred him to Auschwitz on May 28, 1941. He became Prisoner #16670.
Polish Army Captain Witold Pilecki has the honor of being the only person to intentionally sneak INTO Auschwitz.