World Youth Day
World Youth Day (WYD) is an event for young people organized by the Roman Catholic Church.
World Youth Day was initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1985. For the first celebration of WYD in 1986, bishops all over the world were invited to schedule an annual youth event to be held every Palm Sunday in their dioceses. It is celebrated at the diocesan level annually, and at the international level every two to three years at different locations. The 1995 World Youth Day closing Mass in the Philippines set a world record for the largest number of people gathered for a single religious event (with 5 million attendees)— a record surpassed when 6 million attended a Mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the Philippines 20 years later in 2015.
World Youth Day is commonly celebrated in a way similar to many events. The most emphasized and well known traditional theme is the unity and presence of numerous different cultures. Flags and other national declarations are displayed among, mainly young people to show their attendance at the events and proclaim their own themes of Catholicism. Such is usually done through chants and singing of other national songs involving a Catholic theme.
Over the course of the major events taking place, national objects are traded between pilgrims. Flags, shirts, crosses, and other Catholic icons are carried amongst pilgrims which are later traded as souvenirs to other people from different countries of the world. A unity of acceptance among people is also common, with all different cultures coming together to appreciate one another.
Other widely-recognized traditions include the Pope's public appearance, commencing with his arrival around the city in the "Popemobile" and then with his final Mass held at the event. A festival in Sydney recorded an estimated distance of a 10-kilometre walk as roads and other public transport systems were closed off.
Pope Benedict XVI criticized the tendency to view WYD as a kind of rock festival; he stressed that the event should not be considered a "variant of modern youth culture" but as the fruition of a "long exterior and interior path".
1987 to 1993
1995 to 2005
At WYD 1995, 5 million youths gathered at Luneta Park in Manila, Philippines, an event recognized as the largest crowd ever by the Guinness World Records. In an initial comment immediately following the event, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, stated that over 4 million people had participated.
1997 WYD was held in Paris, France. 2000 WYD took place in Rome, Italy. 2002 WYD was held in Toronto, Canada. 2005 WYD was celebrated in Cologne, Germany. Thomas Gabriel composed for the final Mass on 21 August 2005 the Missa mundi (Mass of the world), representing five continents in style and instrumentation, in a European Kyrie influenced by the style of Bach, a South American Gloria with guitars and pan flutes, an Asian Credo with sitar, an African Sanctus with drums, and an Australian Agnus Dei with didgeridoos.
Sydney, Australia, was chosen as the host of the 2008 World Youth Day celebrations. At the time it was announced in 2005, WYD 2008 was commended by the then Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, and the Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal George Pell. World Youth Day 2008 was held in Sydney, with the Papal Mass held on the Sunday at Randwick Racecourse.
The week saw pilgrims from all continents participate in the Days in the Diocese program hosted by Catholic dioceses throughout Australia and New Zealand. Pope Benedict XVI arrived in Sydney on 13 July 2008 at Richmond Air Force Base. Cardinal Pell celebrated the Opening Mass at Barangaroo (East Darling Harbour) with other activities including the re-enactment of Christ's passion during the Stations of the Cross and the pope's boat cruise through Sydney Harbour. Pilgrims participated in a variety of youth festivities including visits to St Mary's Cathedral, daily catechesis and Mass led by bishops from around the world, concerts, visits to the tomb of Saint Mary MacKillop, the Vocations Expo at Darling Harbour, received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and praying before the Blessed Sacrament during Adoration. The Mass and concert at Barangaroo saw an estimated crowd of 150,000.
The event attracted 250,000 foreign visiting pilgrims to Sydney, with an estimated 400,000 pilgrims attending Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI on 20 July.
In May 2007, it was reported that Guy Sebastian's song "Receive the Power" had been chosen as official anthem for World Youth Day (WYD08) to be held in Sydney in 2008. The song was co-written by Guy Sebastian and Gary Pinto, with vocals by Paulini.
In November 2008 a 200-page book, Receive The Power, was launched to commemorate World Youth Day 2008.
Following the celebration of Holy Mass at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney on 20 July 2008, Pope Benedict XVI announced that the next International World Youth Day 2011 would be held in Madrid, Spain. This event was held from 16–21 August 2011.
There were nine official patron saints for World Youth Day 2011 in addition to Blessed John Paul II: St. Isidore, St. John of the Cross, St. Maria de la Cabeza, St. John of Avila, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Rose of Lima, St. Ignatius of Loyola, St. Rafael Arnaiz, and St. Francis Xavier, patron of world missions. During his address to seminarians, Benedict announced that the Spanish mystic and patron of Spanish diocesan clerics, St. John of Avila, would become a "Doctor of the Church," a designation granted to only 34 saints throughout the twenty centuries of Church history.
An estimated 2,000,000 people attended an all-night vigil to complete the week, more than expected.
Since 2002, World Youth Day has been held every three years. After the 2011 event the next World Youth Day was scheduled a year earlier than usual, in 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in order to avoid any conflict with the 2014 FIFA World Cup being held in 12 different host cities throughout Brazil and the 2016 Summer Olympics being held in Rio de Janeiro.
Chronology of celebrations
[Languages] Note 02
|1984||15 April||Saint Peter's Square,
|Europe||300,000||Holy Year of the Redemption: A Festival of Hope||Resta Qui Con Noi
|1985||31 March||Saint Peter's Square,
|Europe||300,000||International Youth Year||
|1987||11 – 12 April||Buenos Aires,
|South America||1,000,000||We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves (1 Jn 4:16)||Un Nuevo Sol
|1989||15 – 20 August||Santiago de Compostela,
|Europe||400,000||I am the Way, the Truth and the Life (Jn 14:6)||Somos Los Jóvenes
|1991||10 – 15 August||Częstochowa,
|Europe||1,600,000||You have received a spirit of sonship (Rom 8:15)||Abba Ojcze
[Polish Italian Spanish]
|1993||10 – 15 August||Denver,
|North America||500,000||I came that they might have life, and have it to the full (Jn 10:10)||(We Are) One Body
|1995||10 – 15 January||Manila,
|Asia||5,000,000||As the Father sent me, so am I sending you (Jn 20:21)||Tell the World of His Love
|1997||19 – 24 August||Paris,
|Europe||1,200,000||Teacher, where are you staying? Come and see (cf. Jn 1:38–39)||Maître Et Seigneur
|2000||15 – 20 August||Saint Peter's Square,
|Europe||2,000,000||The Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Jn 1:14)||Emmanuel
[Italian English French Spanish]
|2002||23 – 28 July||Toronto, Ontario,
|North America||800,000||You are the salt of the earth ... you are the light of the world (Mt 5:13–14)||Lumière Du Monde/Light Of The World
[French English Spanish Italian]
|2005||16 – 21 August||Cologne,
|Europe||1,200,000||We have come to worship Him (Mt 2:2)||Venimus Adorare Eum
[German Latin French Spanish English Italian]
|2008||15 – 20 July||Sydney,
|Australia & Oceania||400,000||You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses. (Ac 1:8)||
Receive the Power
|2011||16 – 21 August||Madrid,
|Europe||1,400,000–2,000,000||Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith (Col 2:7)||Firmes en la Fe
[Spanish English French Italian German Polish Hellenic]
|2013||23 – 28 July||Rio de Janeiro,
|South America||3,700,000||Go and make disciples of all nations (Mt 28:19)||Esperança do Amanhecer
|Europe||TBD||Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. (Mt 5:7)||Błogosławieni miłosierni||
Note 01Attendance numbers reflect the total number at the closing Mass which includes many locals who attended only that one event. Unless otherwise referenced, the numbers are quoted from the USCCB website.
Note 02This lists languages used in the main international version of the anthem. Local versions of the anthem in other languages (and alternate versions) may have also been produced.
|23 March 1986||Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you. (1 Pt 3:15)|
|27 March 1988||Do whatever he tells you. (Jn 2:5)|
|8 April 1990||I am the vine, you are the branches. (Jn 15:5)|
|12 April 1992||Go into all the world and preach the Gospel. (Mk 16:15)|
|27 March 1994||As the Father sent me, so am I sending you. (Jn 20: 21)|
|31 March 1996||Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. (Jn 6:68)|
|5 April 1998||The Holy Spirit will teach you all things. (cf. Jn 14:26 )|
|28 March 1999||The Father loves you. (cf. Jn 16:27)|
|8 April 2001||If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. (Lk 9:23)|
|13 April 2003||Behold, your mother! (Jn 19:27)|
|4 April 2004||We wish to see Jesus. (Jn 12:21)|
|9 April 2006||Your word is a lamp to my feet and light to my path. (Ps 119:105)|
|1 April 2007||Just as I have loved you; you also should love one another. (Jn 13:34)|
|5 April 2009||We have set our hope on the Living God. (1 Tim 4:10)|
|28 March 2010||Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? (Mk 10:17)|
|1 April 2012||Rejoice in the Lord Always (Philip 4:4)|
|13 April 2014||Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:3)|
|29 March 2015||Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Mt 5:8)|
Typical schedule of events
|Up to week before||Tue||Wed||Thu||Fri||Sat||Sun|
|Morning||Days in the dioceses:
||Day of official arrival and welcome for pilgrims||Catechetical session with participating bishops||Walking pilgrimage to vigil site||Closing ceremonies:
||Afternoon shows, music, prayer and reconciliation opportunities||The Pope officially arrives at WYD and delivers his welcome address at a prayer service||Afternoon shows, music, prayer and reconciliation opportunities||Afternoon shows, music, prayer and reconciliation opportunities at vigil site|
|Evening||Evening shows, music, prayer and reconciliation opportunities||Stations of the Cross||Eucharistic Adoration|
At the diocesan level celebrations are decided by a local team usually appointed by the ordinary.
Music, prayer, reconciliation opportunities, as well as adoration of the Blessed Sacrament may also be part of the celebrations.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to World Youth Day.|
- Official World Youth Day website
- Vatican World Youth Day website
- WYD Sydney 2008
- WYD Madrid 2011
- WYD Rio 2013
- WYD Krakow 2016
- WYD page from United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- World Youth Day Photo Slideshows, Themesongs and Small Movie (English/Dutch/German)
- In pictures: Pope ends Australia trip