Poland has prepared an enthusiastic welcome for the German-born Pope Benedict XVI, who begins a four-day visit on Thursday to the homeland of his predecessor that will include a symbolically powerful visit to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp.
The anticipation is clear at Warsaw’s All Saint’s Church, where outdoor vendors have started hawking rosaries and papal flags.
A banner spans the church entrance showing a smiling Benedict and the message: “Welcome Benedict XVI. Holy Father, strengthen our faith!”
But the challenge facing Benedict is apparent just below the banner, where worshippers have created an unofficial shrine at a statue of the Polish-born John Paul II, surrounding it with fresh flowers and burning candles.