It may seem as if these thousands of young people camped in front of a stage are waiting for their favorite rock star to play...Instead, they're young Catholics waiting for John Paul II.
This unusual scene became the norm every two or three summers thanks to WYD. It was all John Paul II's idea.
CARD. JOAO BRAZ DE AVIZ
"World Youth Day is a phenomenon discovered by John Paul II. It is quite shocking to see how such an old person, like the Pope, connected with young people.”
The first WYD took place in Rome in 1984. That same year, John Paul II gave young people the Cross that presides all their meetings.
A wide range of countries have hosted WYD: from United States to Spain, Australia to Argentina. The largest one took place in Manila and gathered five million people.
John Paul II never hid how these encounters encouraged him to carry on, as he repeated to youth that they were his hope, and the Church's.
JOHN PAUL II
"If you live with young people, you become young yourself!”
But his connection with young people went beyond WYD: he wrote them an Apostolic Letter in 1985, and no matter where he traveled to, he would always make some time to meet them.
Though more casual than a WYD, these meetings shared the same atmosphere.
The last time John Paul II met with young people was in Rome in 2004. A year before he had gone to Madrid, where his visit left memorable images.
JOHN PAUL II
I'm a 83 year-old youngster!
It was 2003 and John Paul II proved that sometimes age is no obstacle to youth.