Poles Mourn Loss of Wujek Wojtyla

FOX News' producer Paulina Krycinski files this report from Krakow (search), Poland:

Just about 200 feet away from the Papal Window rests the FOX News Channel live-shot setup. It’s in this location that the people of Krakow gather to pray, light candles, sing songs or just take in the collective loss they all feel.

The street that passes right in front of the window is continuously inundated with grievers pretty much all day and through part of the night. The weather has been beautiful: cloudless and sunny and the temperature reaching the mid 60s — very unusual for April. I’ve heard it described on Polish TV as the "Pope’s Weather."

The sidewalks are covered in wax that has melted from the thousands of colorful candles lit in honor of the pope. Each candle representing a prayer for the Holy Father. Perhaps the most tear-jerking part of this ever-expanding tribute to the man the Poles so fondly call "Uncle," are the handwritten and hand-drawn notes from the children. One card that struck me in particular depicts a snow-capped mountain, topped with a black cross and flanked by a picture of two traditional Polish candies. It reads: "I know you loved these candies, I hope wherever you are now, you can have some." It’s in these cards that the true loss by the Poles can be felt and the adoration the nation universally shares for him can be seen.

There is no escape from the sadness. Tuesday morning, a little girl — maybe five-years old — gathered with her preschool classmates to say a prayer for the pope. Her little pigtails shook as she clenched her hands in prayer. She lit a candle, made the sign of the cross and then thanked her teacher for letting the class come and pray.

Each day, the methods of tribute change. Today we saw a huge outpouring of Krakow’s youth. In grassroots style, students gathered in circles, held hands, strung some cords on a guitar and sang the Pope’s favorite songs. We even heard the Beatles' "Hey Jude" being sung in the afternoon.

I guess the amazing thing that can only be seen when face to face with such a mass grievance is that in all the sadness and unbelievable sense of loss there is a feeling of indelible pride and gratitude. Pride in the fact the pope was truly a great Pole … one who represented the best that Poland has to offer. And gratitude for delivering to the world a positive message about a country that more often than not has struggled.

For me this has been a difficult assignment. I was born in Poland and, while it is not the place I call home, it’s certainly the place of my roots. I too feel a deep sense of loss. Best put … I feel a little emptier, a feeling like something, someone is missing.

As we move closer to Friday, the day of the Pope’s funeral, I imagine the gathering of people before the Papal Window will only grow larger and the need for public and united grieving will only grow stronger. I’ll have more from Poland as the week moves on.

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