World Youth Day is around the corner and many attendees are using the opportunity to visit other European countries before the start of this international meeting. Rome is the most popular addition with 35.2% of all pilgrims taking time to visit the Vatican.
"We're from the Newcastle Diocese, in Australia, New South Wales, and we're here as a massive group of 72 people. We're here to experience everything, see the Pope, meet the Pope, and connect with other Catholics.”
"It's going to be a once in a lifetime experience. I don't think Pope will come to Sydney, World Youth Day has already been in Sydney, we're never going to be 16 again doing this trip, so why not?”.
Many have a very clear itinerary for their trip to Poland, others are going to improvise. Some have even found help along the way.
"There is already a group there; they have all of the information. I did get a text message yesterday telling us that there is a lot of trouble with food distribution, with getting information and stuff like that, but you know what? We are young so...”
"We have organized the stays in every country we have been to, and we've spoken to the brothers of the communities in other towns, and they have helped us arrange our stays. In fact, this priest is hosting us here in Italy.”
"They're behaving very well. They're young people with a deep-rooted faith and they are looking forward to finding the Lord, which I think is crucial in this pilgrimage, because Jesus Christ is waiting for us and He wants to transform our hearts.”
Even though many don't have a clear plan, there are two things they know for sure: the places they want to see in Krakow and the reasons for going to WYD.
"We want to see all the places where John Paul II spent his life, because he was a Pope who left a mark in our lives.”
"One of our plans is to visit the Shrine of the Divine Mercy and to discover and feel where this devotion came from, the message the Pope wants to pass on, and his Mercy through love.”
"The reunion of the whole community. Catholics from all over the world coming together in one place, with one goal, is incredible.”
In order to make the most of their trip to Europe, many are planning on staying around for a few more days after WYD.
"Now we are going to Venice, Pisa, Florence, Venecia, then to Cologne. We will be in Krakow, Auschwitz, then Warsaw and Madrid, Berlin, Amsterdam, France, Avignon. Paris, we go back to Madrid, then in Zaragoza for a while, and then we go back to Colombia.”
WYD will be, without a doubt, an unforgettable experience for everyone.