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Rome Reports

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Keys: What is World Youth Day?


World Youth Day is an international event usually held every two or three years in a host city chosen by the pope. 

Thousands upon thousands of young people from across the world attend the event to celebrate Mass, pray, go to conferences on the faith; and finally spend time with the pope. 

HOW DID WORLD YOUTH DAY START?

World Youth Day unofficially began in 1984 when Pope John Paul II invited young people

from around the world to an International Jubilee of youth on Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s Square.

The following year on Palm Sunday, during the United Nation’s International Year of the Youth, Pope John Paul II once again invited the youth to come to Rome. 

It was soon after these two events that the pope announced the institution of World Youth Day on December 20, 1985. 

The first official WYD was held in Rome, in 1986. Two years later the WYD was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  

WHERE WILL THE NEXT WORLD YOUTH DAY BE?

The next international WYD meeting will be in Panama from January 22 to 27, 2019. The theme for this WYD is taken from Luke's Gospel “I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your Word.”

This will be the 15th edition of WYD and it will be the first time it takes place in Central America. It will also be the third one for Pope Francis.

WHAT IS THE THEME OF WORLD YOUTH DAY?

Each WYD is focused on a particular phrase from scriptures. At the last gathering, in Krakow, Poland, the scripture was from the Gospel of Matthew “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”

The 2016 WYD focused on the mercy of God, using the examples of St. Faustina and her mystical experiences of Divine Mercy. It also focused on St. John Paul II, as he was Archbishop of Krakow before becoming pope. 

WHAT IS THE WYD CROSS?

The World Youth Day cross was entrusted to young people at St. Peter’s Square by Pope John Paul II 1984. It is a sign of their mission to carry it throughout the world as a symbol of 'Christ's love for humanity.'

POPE JOHN PAUL II
“Announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption.”

The cross has traveled to all continents and has presided at each World Youth Day. It is also accompanied by an icon of Virgin Mary. This image of the Blessed Mother was included by Pope John Paul II in 2003.