Out of site: 29km pilgrimage walk at WYD

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Workers install security barriers at the site of Campus Misericordiae in Brzegi, Poland, on 15 June. Photo: Grzegorz Momot, EPA
Workers install security barriers at the site of Campus Misericordiae in Brzegi, Poland, on 15 June. Photo: Grzegorz Momot, EPA

Young people attending World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow, Poland, will have to walk 29km to and from one of its key sites, event organisers said.

“They’ll have to be ready for a long foot journey of several hours, but this has always been a feature of World Youth Days,” said Anna Chmura, WYD’s communications co-ordinator.

“There’ll be several designated routes, mostly from Krakow, and they’ll all be used heavily. But we’re confident the logistics and security have now been carefully worked out,” she told Catholic News Service.

The event, from 26-31 July, is expected to bring two million people from 187 countries to the southern Polish city, accompanied by 47 cardinals, 800 bishops and 20,000 priests.

The 30-31 July vigil and Mass, on the fourth and fifth days of Pope Francis’ visit, will require nearly all of the participants to make the 14km journey to Campus Misericordiae, near Poland’s Wieliczka salt mine.

Buses will be available only for the 2000 handicapped people registered for the event, elderly pilgrims and those with special needs, Anna Chmura said.

“Although we don’t have a final number for the buses, there’ll certainly be doz, ens, but the foot pilgrimage theme is central to the WYD,” she explained.

“All registered groups from the various sectors will have their paths precisely indicated, to keep people moving and avoid logjams or safety hazards.”

The closing events include an evening prayer vigil on 30 July at the campus as pilgrims stay overnight at the site. World Youth Day concludes the morning of 31 July with Mass and recitation of the Angelus before Pope Francis departs for Rome.

Organisers said seven bridges had been constructed nearby with 20 giant “eucharistic tents” as well as computer links to enable people worldwide to follow activities using 32 “pilgrim avatars”.

Wieliczka Mayor Artur Koziol said roads and highways had been widened, and irrigation ditches and dikes strengthened following heavy summer rainfall on the 180ha site.

“We’re effectively building a city of two million here, so there must be an appropriate infrastructure,” Mr Koziol told journalists on 29 June.
Krakow Mayor Jacek Majchrowski said an expected doubling of the city population during the event had necessitated “elasticity in transport and communications”. He said both Krakow and Wieliczka would be “as secure as the Vatican” during the celebration and that numerous scenarios had been reviewed for months by Poland’s security personnel

More than 920,000 people are reported to have registered for events by the 30 June deadline, including more than 77,000 Italians, 31,000 Spaniards, 35,000 French, 27,000 Americans and 14,000 Brazilians.