After visiting Auschwitz, Pope Francis visited also Birkenau extermination camp. At the entrance of the camp he spoke with the director of the Museum of Auschwitz-Birkenau, then moved on in his electric car on the road that runs along the railroad tracks, on which the trains arrived carrying the deported Jews and other prisoners of the Nazis. Later, he walked to the International Monument place to remember the victims, which was built in 1967 in the gas chambers 2 and 3 of the lager. He paid silent tribute in solitude, before the monuments that commemorates the dead of the Holocaust. A very moving moment was when a rabbi chanted the Psalm 130, ‘‘De Profundis’’, in Hebrew. Then, the same Psalm was read in Polish by the pastor of a village of Poland, where lived a Catholic family that was wiped out, including the children, for hosting and saving Jews.
After reciting the Psalm, the Pope met 25 people recognized as the “Righteous of the Nations” for saving Jews during their persecution. He spent some time with each of them, exchanging gifts. The Bishop of Rome came on a prayer pilgrimage to this place 37 years after the first time a Pope – John Paul II, 7 June 1979 – and 10 years after the second visit of another pontiff – Benedict XVI, 28 May 2006. After the visit to the concentration camps, the Holy Father is now on his way back to Krakow, where in the afternoon, he will visit the children’s hospital of the city, then will make the Way of the Cross with the young people of the WYD.