KRAKOW, Poland — Pope Francis held up the life of a young man who designed the World Youth Day graphics as a gift to the church.
In a brief message to thousands of pilgrims July 27, Pope Francis asked the throng outside the cardinal’s residence to remember the life and work of Maciej Szymon Ciesla, 22, who died of cancer in early July.
“He is with us today,” the pope said from the same window at the cardinal’s residence where St. John Paul II, former archbishop of Krakow, often talked to the faithful.
Pope Francis told those gathered in the square below the window that Ciesla had quit his job to volunteer with the World Youth Day committee. The pope described how Ciesla was diagnosed with cancer in November and the “doctors could not do anything.”
“Even leg amputation did not help. He wanted to live to the visit of the pope. He even had a place reserved in the tram in which the pope was to travel, but he died on July 2,” Pope Francis said, referring to his July 28 ride to the welcoming ceremony in a tram through Krakow’s Old City.
He told the crowd people must “become accustomed that we experience good and evil. Such is life, my dear young people. But we cannot doubt one thing. The faith of this boy, our friend, who devotedly worked for the World Youth Day, led him to heaven, and now he is with Jesus and looks at us. It is a great mercy. Let us applaud our friend.”
“One day we will also meet him,” Pope Francis added. “And we will say, ‘It is you. Nice to meet you.’”
He said Ciesla was an example of courage and urged the pilgrims not to be afraid.
Before closing with a prayer, the pope urged the crowd to “make yourself heard during the night, that is, show your Christian joy, the joy of community who follows Jesus.”