August 12, 2011. (Romereports.com)
There are only a few days left before World Youth Day kicks off. Today the Vatican talked about the event's last details. For now, pope Benedict XVI is all set to go to Madrid where he'll be welcomed by roughly 1.5 million people from every corner of the world.
The director of the Vatican Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi said 450,000 youths are formally registered for World Youth Day. Even so, it's estimated that over 1.5 million people will attend. Among them 800 bishops and 6,000 seminarians.
This will be pope's third trip to Spain, but his first to the city of Madrid.
World Youth Day kicks off tuesday afternoon when Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela celebrates Mass in the Plaza de Cibeles.
The Pope will arrive to Madrid Barajas airport thursday morning where he will be greeted by Spain's royal family.
The first meeting between Benedict XVI and the youths will be a welcome party. The pope will cross the Puerta de Alcalá with five youths from each continent. The pope will plant an olive tree, making reference to the theme titled "Rooted and built up in Christ, firm in the faith."
On Friday 19th, the pope will visit Spain's royal family at the Palacio de la Zarzuela.
Then he'll go to the Monastery of El Escorial, which is roughly 30 miles from Madrid. There he'll meet with 2,000 young nuns. Once inside the basilica he'll have a second meeting with 1,200 young university teachers.
At the Vatican's embassy, he'll meet with 12 volunteers from WYD. There will be two youths from every continent and two Spaniards.
In the afternoon the pope will head the Stations of the Cross at Paseo de Recoletos. This will be the first time, as pope, that he'll be present throughout the Stations of the Cross.
On Saturday morning, the pope will confess three youths in a park called Parque del Retiro. Two hundred confessionals have already been set up for the “Festival of Forgiveness.” In total, priest will hold confessions in 20 different languages every day.
The pope will then go to the Almudena Cathedral, where he will meet with 6,000 seminarians.
It's also very common for the pope to set time aside to visit people taking part in social work. In this case, it will be the Institute of San Jose, which administers the Order of St.John of God. The institution specializes in helping people with physical and mental disabilities. Two hundred of them will be present during the pope's visit.
The key moment of World Youth Day will be the vigil taking part in Cuatro Vientos aerodrome. It will be divided in three stages. The first is the procession of the Cross and also of WYD's Icon. In the second stage, the youths will be able to ask questions to the pope and listen to his response. The third will be a time of prayer with the Blessed Sacrament.
That aerodrome is the size of about 48 football fields. About 2,000 drinking water installments are set as well as and 4,000 portable toilets. There will be 48 sound towers and more than 20 big screens. Over 1.5 million bags bags of food will be handed out to pilgrims.
It's estimated that around 500,000 youths will spend the night at Cuatro Vientos to save a spot for the August 21st Mass, which will start at 9:30 am.
At the end of this Mass, Benedict XVI will pray the Angelus and announce the city chosen for the next World Youth Day in 2013.
Before returning to Rome, he'll meet with the 12,000 volunteers that helped out in WYD.
This will be the pope's 20th international trip. Pope John Paul II visited Spain five times.