Pope holds Mass celebrating Poland’s deep Catholic roots

CZESTOCHOWA, Poland (AP) – Pope Francis has taken part in a festive rally with an estimated 500,000 people attending the church’s World Youth Day in Krakow, Poland.

Francis clapped as bands and dancers performed for the massive gathering of young Catholics from around the world. He told them that it takes courage to marry and commit one’s life to another person in today’s culture.

Earlier Thursday, at a shrine cherished by Poles, the pope praised native son St. John Paul II and other Poles who held firm to their Catholic faith in the former Communist nation. At the outdoor Mass before an estimated crowd of 600,000, Francis urged Poles to stay united even as their nation is divided over the issue of refugees and migrants, especially those who aren’t Christians.

A woman attending the Mass left early when she went into labor. Local officials say the woman was taken to a local hospital where she gave birth to a girl.