The World Youth Day cross, a gift from Pope John Paul II, travels the world to represent God's love to the young. He dedicated the cross to the youth during Easter Sunday Mass during the 1984 Jubilee Year.
POPE JOHN PAUL II
April 22, 1984
"My dear young people, at the conclusion of the Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the Cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption.”
The cross is kept in a youth center, San Lorenzo Center in Rome, founded by John Paul II. He wanted it to be a place where international youth unite in prayer and friendship.
Director, Centro San Lorenzo
"So it's really the first way to help young people is for all of them to see this cross and to pray in front of it. And the second way to be a witness for these young people is to share together, is to create friendship. So it's through the cross, through the experience of faith and through friendship that the young coming here can be helped.”
The cross has traveled to every continent and is a known symbol of the popular World Youth Day. Young people are commonly seen carrying the cross, touching it or praying in front of it. The cross is set up with Bible verses placed in a basket below, where people can pray and also write any prayer intentions they might have.
MAGDELEINE DE LAAGE
Director of Hospitality, Centro San Lorenzo
"Pope John Paul II has given it to us, and through this cross I have a very strong relationship with Pope John Paul II. In fact, when I see the holy cross I see the whole communion of young people, as one, united with Pope Benedict and Francis. It is beautiful, this movement of unity that can be seen behind this cross.”
This unity is one that comes to fruition every two or three years, when youth from all over the world continue the tradition Saint John Paul II started 32 years ago, as a way to spark the flame of faith and love within the younger generation through the symbolism of this cross. This July the cross will be seen in Krakow, Poland.