Geografia pielgrzymek Jana Pawła II
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The pilgrimages of John Paul II have fascinated religious and secular circles since the beginning of his Pontificate. No pope before him had undertaken pilgrimages to so many, sometimes very distant, corners of the world. "I come here as a Pilgrim Pope. Thank you for inviting me as a Pilgrim." These were the words John Paul II used to begin his "apostolic pilgrimages" or "pilgrimages of faith" in different countries and regions of the world. The Holy Father used, and academics and biographers continue to use, many other terms for his papal pilgrimages. They were certainly a unique phenomenon in the history of the Church, and in particular, the papacy. The apostolic journeys of the Holy Father became important as determinants of his Pontificate. John Paul II's Pontificate has been described as a "Pontificate with no frontiers", his papal journeys being considered by theologians as a vital element of his evangelical message to the world. According to official Vatican documents, Pope John Paul II made 104 pilgrimages abroad, during which he visited more than 130 countries and nearly 900 towns (many of them more than once). His first pilgrimage was to Latin America (The Dominican Republic, Mexico, The Bahamas; January 1979), while his last journey was to Lourdes, France (August 15-16, 2004). He visited some countries several times. These included Poland (eight times), France, and the USA (seven times each), Spain and Mexico (five times each), as well as Portugal (four visits), Switzerland (four), Brazil (four), Austria, the Czech Republic, the Dominican Republic, Germany, Guatemala, Canada, and the Ivory Coast (three visits each). Statisticians have calculated that the total length of his pilgrimage trail was 1.7 million km - more than three times the distance from the Earth to the Moon. This also corresponds to almost 30 circumferences of the Earth measured around the Equator. His longest journey was to the Far East and Oceania (32nd pilgrimage, Nov. 18 - Dec. 1, 1986). During that journey, the Pope covered nearly 50,000 kilometers. The shortest trip was his pilgrimage to San Marino (15th pilgrimage, Aug. 29, 1982), where the Pope stayed for only five hours. In total, the Pope spent 588 days outside of Italy during his Pontificate. It should also be mentioned that, in addition to his pilgrimages abroad, the Pope made around 145 journeys within Italy. The first such journey took place as early as 1978 - to Mentorella in October and to Assisi in November. In total, the Pope spent over two years of his Pontificate traveling. It should also be added that in his capacity as Bishop of Rome, he visited over 300 parishes in the "Eternal City". Hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of pilgrims, sometimes from faraway countries and regions, gathered at ceremonies in which the Pope was to participate. An analysis of the apostolic journeys of John Paul II affords an attempt to identify their typology. The following types may be distinguished: (1) pilgrimages to countries where Roman Catholics constitute the dominant group and a high level of religious awareness is recorded; (2) pilgrimages to countries where Roman Catholics are the dominant group but a low or average level of religious awareness is recorded; (3) pilgrimages to countries where Protestants or Eastern Orthodox Christians constitute a significant share of the population; (4) pilgrimages to countries where non-Christians are the dominant group; (5) journeys associated with the Pope's visits to international organizations and speeches at forums; (6) journeys on World Youth Days, which were initiated by the Pope in 1984. A common feature of all the types of papal pilgrimages were ecumenical meetings with Jewish, Muslim or other religious communities, meetings with young people, as well as the sick and the disabled. During all of his travels, John Paul II spared no effort to meet with Polish people living in different parts of the world. Every visit by the Holy Father always included a meeting with the local Episcopate and often included his personal participation in Bishops' Synods. Beatification and canonization ceremonies were important events during his pilgrimages. More than 320 individuals, mostly from Europe and Asia, were beatified or canonized by John Paul II. John Paul II visited sanctuaries dedicated to Saint Mary on many of his journeys. This was associated with the Pope's intention to put all the continents, countries, and regions he visited under the protection of the Mother of God. He would ask for this special form of protection for the Catholic Church, for world peace, and for families throughout the world.
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