Global Catholicism, urban heritage, national politics: the 2016 World Youth Day in Kraków

Słowa kluczowe

World Youth Day
Roman Catholic Church
pilgrimage studies
Christian heritage

Jak cytować

Niedźwiedź, A. (2019). Global Catholicism, urban heritage, national politics: the 2016 World Youth Day in Kraków. Etnografia Polska, 63(1-2), 185–204.


This paper analyzes the World Youth Day (WYD) – a cyclical Catholic global youth gathering – by focusing on the 2016 WYD in Kraków, Poland. The WYD is described as a multilayered event that generates and mirrors conflicting and conflating discourses operating at the global, national, and local levels of Catholicism and various perceptions of these discourses. The paper discusses the massive and festive character of the WYD, its branding potential as a typical mega-event as well as its religious dimension as a modern pilgrimage. Even though the WYD is organized cyclically and follows a general, established schedule, references to local and national contexts shape and influence its form in the specific environment of a host state and city. This paper shows that in European locations the concept of “Christian heritage” is actively used by the Church framing the event in religious terms. This framing relates to the “New Evangelization” policy which seeks to revive Christianity in an “old continent”, as well as emphasizes the religious and spiritual potential of historic Christian sites, objects and practices in the context of an international youth gathering. Additionally, the Kraków case study demonstrates the role of local and national political processes and the branding strategies of the Polish Church and the Polish government.


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