Vatican City, Jul 20, 2016 / 12:49 pm
Though rumors have been floating for some time, the Vatican confirmed that the Pope will meet with 10 Holocaust survivors during his upcoming visit to Auschwitz while in Poland for World Youth Day.
After arriving to Auschwitz and passing under the arch of the main entrance on foot, Francis will be taken by car to Block 11, where he will be welcomed by Poland’s Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, as well as the 10 survivors.
The Pope “will individually meet” with each of the survivors, “the last of whom will be given a candle,” Fr. Federico Lombardi told journalists July 20.
One of the survivors, he noted, is 101 years old and is hosting a group of pilgrims who are traveling to Krakow to participate in WYD.
In addition to the survivors, Francis will also meet with 25 “Righteous among the Nations” from all over the world. The phrase is an honorific title bestowed by the State of Israel on non-Jews who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews during the Nazi extermination.
An example of one of these people is Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist, spy, Nazi party member and protagonist of the award-winning film “Schindler’s List” who is estimated to have saved the lives of some 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust.
Fr. Lombardi spoke to journalists during a July 20 news briefing on the Pope’s July 27-31 trip to Poland, during which he is scheduled to visit Poland’s historic shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa and Krakow’s Shrine of Divine Mercy in addition to his visit to Auschwitz and the WYD events.
In his comments to journalists, Fr. Lombardi confirmed that Pope Francis will not give a speech at Auschwitz, nor will he celebrate a public Mass. Instead, he will say Mass in private, and will sit in silence in the death camp where an estimated 1 million people lost their lives.