Before taking off for WYD in Krakow, Pope Francis will pray at the tomb of St. John Paul II alongside children who have cancer, and will bring their prayers to Poland in order to ask the nation’s saint for healing.
According to a July 26 statement from Italian nonprofit Peter Pan, which works with children who have cancer and their families, members of the association will “share a moment of prayer" with Pope Francis July 27 before he flies to Krakow for World Youth Day.
Scheduled to depart from Rome’s Fiumicino airport at 2 p.m., Francis will come to St. Peter’s Basilica at 8:45 a.m., where he will meet members of the Peter Pan association at the tomb of St. John Paul II (in the basilica’s St. Sebastian Chapel) to join them in a moment of prayer.
The group will have a prayer celebration including Mass and the rosary at the saint’s tomb, led by Fr. Jarek Cielecki. While Francis won’t stay for the entire event, he’ll join the group for part of their prayer.
According to the statement, they “will ask the Holy Father to bring with him to WYD the prayers of the families of children and adolescents who are ill, and to unite them to those of the youth, who come from all over the world, and to his own, so that with the intercession of St. John Paul II, these children can be restored to health."
Founded in Rome in 2000, Peter Pan is a volunteer association and was born from the desire of a group of parents with children suffering from cancer who wanted to offer other families concrete support in facing the difficult experience of illness.
The association provides houses and welcome for families who don’t live in Rome, but who come to treat their children in the city’s hospitals, particularly the Bambino Gesu and the Policlinico Umberto I.
The association continues their work with the help of their nearly 200 volunteers, as well as through the donations of individuals and agencies.
During the celebration of Wednesday’s Mass, Fr. Cielecki, a Pole, will light two candles, one of which contains the image of the Merciful Jesus and was blessed by him in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius, while the other shows the face of St. John Paul II and was blessed in the saint’s hometown of Wadowice.
In addition to Wednesday’s Mass and prayer with Pope Francis, intercessory prayer will take place at St. John Paul II’s tomb every day from July 28-31 so as to be “in communion with the Holy Father, who will be praying in Krakow with the youth of WYD," as well as for all who are sick, including the families and children involved in Peter Pan.