Young Catholics from all over the world are going to Krakow for World Youth Day. They will be joined in Poland by Pope Francis later on Wednesday.
The festival officially began on Tuesday with an opening Mass led by Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, the archbishop of Krakow.
The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has already arrived in Poland. This visit is eagerly awaited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims who have flocked to this country from around the world. Up to two million people are expected.
During his trip, Pope Francis will hear confessions, break bread and lead a prayer vigil with several selected groups of young Catholics. The pontiff will also visit the former Nazi camps at Auschwitz and Birkenau, where he has asked that those in attendance offer prayers and tears rather than speeches.
Initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1985, the event takes place roughly every three years and gives young Catholics an opportunity to celebrate their faith in the company of their pontiff. John Paul the second holds an iconic status in Poland.
But many Catholics in the conservative Poland are said to be concerned about calls by Pope Francis for a change in attitudes towards a more inclusive and merciful church. Meeting between Francis and the Polish Church will be challenging for both sides.
The visit of pontific is overshadowed by the murder of catholic bishop in France by ISIS member. He has already voiced "pain and horror" at the "barbaric killing" of French priest Jacques Hamel in Normandy and is set to use his address in Krakow to condemn religious violence and the persecution of Christians while also warning Europe not to fall prey to xenophobia.