Saturday, August 27, 2005

Widows and Orphans

As he marked his coming full-circle, Stasiu's supporters were out in full force. The Poles have actually made a weekend of it.

Yesterday, the Krakow prelate participated in the blessing of a new "screen" for the Black Madonna of Jasna Gora.
Dziwisz and Poland's primate, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, blessed golden crowns from John Paul, who died April 2, on the head of the icon's image of the Virgin Mary and on the image of the baby Jesus.

The crowns were "the last gift of his life to Mary, the queen of Poland," said Dziwisz, who will be installed as the archbishop of Krakow on Saturday.

Church leaders also placed a 20-pound panel of amber decorated with nearly 1,000 diamonds on the painting. The covering — commonly called a "dress" — leaves only the faces of Mary and Jesus and their crowns visible beneath the screen.

By placing the crowns on the icon, we were able "in a way to fulfill the last will, the testament of Pope John Paul the Great," Dziwisz said.

The priests of Jasna Gora estimated the crowd present at 100,000. And there was another great crowd in Tower Square, Krakow, for today's installation mass, which was held outdoors.

The canonical possession, itself -- i.e. the presentation of the bull of appointment to the chapter of canons of the Krakow cathedral, followed by the enthronement rite -- took place at the Wawel, followed by a procession through the streets to the Mariacki, where the mass itself took place. As it wended its way through swelling crowds, the successor of Stanislaw was preceded by a small gold coffin containing the relics of the martyr-bishop. The reliquary was kept on the altar for the liturgy.

Dziwisz was attended by an all-star international cast of prelates. Law, Ruini, Marini, Meisner, Sepe, Re and, not to be outdone, the Most High Pharaoh all turned out to witness the event. So it wasn't just a Homecoming, it was a Romecoming.

And now, with the Romans heading homeward, the work begins....

PHOTO 1: AP/Jacek Stroda
PHOTO 2: AP/Alik Keplicz