At the sound of a bell from the altar, relayed over loud-speakers, about 50,000 people at an open-air mass last month in the Polish capital dropped down to kneel in the street.
It was a powerful symbol of Poland’s deeply felt Roman Catholicism, a reminder of the scenes in the 1980s when, inspired by Polish Pope John Paul II, people prayed in the streets and brought down Communist rule.
But modernity intruded on this recent moment of spiritual contemplation. The size of the crowd meant some worshippers, who arrived late, had to listen to the mass standing outside a sex shop with signs in the window offering “exotic dances”.
Society in Poland is changing and with it, the relationship between the Polish people and the Catholic church.