World Youth Day, as teenagers have come to know it, was created by Saint John Paul II in 1984 after the Jubilee of Young People in Rome. Since this time, gatherings of youth have united to learn, pray and grow through one common outlet: music.
Each World Youth Day is characterized by an official anthem, highlighting the overall message of that year's encounter. For the 2016 meeting in Krakow, mercy will be spread to all attending youth through the song, "Blessed are the Merciful.”
The previous World Youth Day hosted three million along the sandy shores of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This was the biggest turnout to date and Pope Francis' first meeting with the youth. The upbeat tempo of "Hope of the Dawn” encouraged all attendees to "go be missionaries.”
In 2011, Spain was the first country, outside of Italy, to host the world meeting for a second time. Teenagers gathered in Madrid to ask for faith with the anthem, "Firm in the Faith.” It was the third and final meeting hosted by Pope Benedict XVI before his resignation in 2013.
Three years earlier, Sydney, Australia, hosted the 23rd Catholic Youth Festival. It was the first time Pope Benedict XVI had ever visited "the land down under.” The theme centered around the promise and mission of the Holy Spirit from Acts 1:8 in the Bible, and was solidified with the song, "Receive the Power.”
Cologne, Germany, was the destination for the 2005 youth encounter. The theme was inspired by The Shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne, which houses the relics of the three Magi. Thus, the song focused on the Adoration of the Magi and praising God with the anthem, "Venimus Adorare Eum.”
The 2002 World Youth Day took place in Toronto, Canada. It was the last time Saint John Paul II was present for a youth day, and he expressed his gratitude to God for the thousands of youth who had come over the years. The theme,"Light of the World,” emphasized the light Christ brings to the world and the brightness that is reflected from person to person.
To celebrate the Jubilee Year in 2000, the meeting was held at the heart of the Catholic Church, Rome, Italy. With over two million attendees, it was nicknamed the "Catholic Woodstock,” and over 2000 priests were available for confessions throughout St. Peter's Square. The theme song from this World Youth Day has become one of the most recognizable anthems throughout the world, "Emmanuel.”
This year's Catholic Youth Festival in July is once again coinciding with a Jubilee Year, the Year of Mercy. It will take place in Poland, Saint John Paul II's homeland and where the Divine Mercy image of Jesus was created by Saint Faustina. The song "Blessed are the Merciful” has been translated from Polish to numerous languages and even includes an Alternative Rock and Electro House Version.