ABOUT WORLD YOUTH DAY
World Youth Day (WYD) is the gathering of young people from all over the world with the Pope. It is also a pilgrimage, a celebration of youth, an expression of the universal Church and an intense moment of evangelisation for the youth world. Although its Catholic identity is clearly evident, WYD opens its doors to everyone, no matter how close to or distant from the Church they are.
It is celebrated at the diocesan level on the Solemnity of Christ the King in November, and every two, three or four years as an international gathering in a city chosen by the Pope, with the presence of the Holy Father. It brings together millions of young people to celebrate their faith and sense of belonging to the Church.
Since its first edition in Rome in 1986, World Youth Day has proven to be a laboratory of faith, a place of birth for vocations to marriage and consecrated life, and an instrument for the evangelisation and transformation of the Church.
It aims to provide all participants with a universal Church experience, fostering a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. It is a new stimulus to the faith, hope and charity of the entire host country community. With young people as its protagonists, World Youth Day also seeks to promote peace, unity and fraternity among peoples and nations around the world.
Over the course of a week, young people from all over the world are welcomed, mainly in public (gymnasiums, schools, pavilions …) and parish facilities or family homes. In addition to the moments of prayer, sharing and leisure, the young people enrolled in this celebration participate in various initiatives organised by the WYD team, in different locations across the host city. The highlights are the celebrations (central features) for which the Pope is present, such as the welcoming and opening ceremony, the Way of the Cross, the vigil and, on the last day, the closing mass.
“Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39)
“Mary arose and went with haste” (Lk 1:39) is the bible quote chosen by Pope Francis as the motto of the World Youth Day that will be held for the first time in the capital city of Lisbon, Portugal. The biblical phrase (a quote from the Gospel of St. Luke) opens the account of the Visitation (Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth), a biblical episode following the Annunciation (the angel’s announcement to Mary that she would be the mother of the Son of God, and the theme of the last WYD, in Panama).
During their conversation of the Annunciation, the angel also tells Mary that her older cousin, thought to be sterile, is pregnant. After affirming to the angel ” Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word ” (Lk 1:38), it is then that Mary sets out for Ain Karim, a village near Jerusalem where Elizabeth lived and was awaiting the birth of John, who would become Saint John the Baptist.
Mary of Nazareth is the great figure of the Christian journey. She teaches us to say yes to God. She was the protagonist of the last edition of WYD and will be so once again in Lisbon.
In the biblical episode of the Visitation, the action of standing up presents Mary as both a woman of charity and a missionary woman. Leaving in haste represents the attitude depicted in Pope Francis’ indications for WYD Lisbon 2023: “may young people’s evangelization be active and missionary, for this is how they will recognize and witness the presence of the living Christ”.
Addressing young people in particular, and challenging them to be courageous missionaries, the following was written by the Pope in the Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit: “Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: he sends us everywhere. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some” (CV 177).
Read the Pope’s Message for the XXXVII World Youth Day here: https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/messages/youth/documents/papa-francesco_20220815_messaggio-giovani_2022.html
The logo of the WYD Lisbon 2023, inspired by the theme “Mary arose and went with haste” (LK 1:39), has got the Cross as a main element. This is crossed by a path where the Holy Spirit arises.
It is an invitation for the young people so that they do not stand still and asking them to be the main characters in building a fairer and more fraternal world, explains the author, the young Portuguese designer Beatriz Roque Antunes.
The colours (green, red, and yellow) evoke the Portuguese flag.
The Christian Cross, sign of the infinite love of God for humankind, is the main element, from which everything is born.
The passage of the Visitation is the theme of the WYD Lisbon 2023, and it reveals to us that Mary was ready to live according to God’s will, being available to serve Elizabeth. This movement underlines the invitation made to the young people to renew their “inner strength, their dreams, the enthusiasm, the hope and the gratitude” (Christus Vivit, 20). Next to the path there is also a shape that evokes the Holy Spirit.
The choice of the rosary celebrates the spirituality of the Portuguese people in their devotion to Our Lady of Fátima. This is placed on the path to recall the pilgrimage experience which is so remarkable in Portugal.
Mary is depicted as a young girl to represent the figure of the Gospel of Saint Luke (LK1:39) and to enable a greater identification with the youth. The drawing expresses the juvenility of her age, a characteristic of someone who was not a mother yet, but who is carrying the light of the world inside Her. This figure has a slight inclination, to show the compelled attitude of the Virgin Mary.
Our Lady of the Visitation,
you who arose and went with haste
into the hill country to meet Elizabeth,
lead us also to encounter all those who await us
to deliver them the living Gospel: Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord!
We, too, will go in haste, without distraction or delay,
but with readiness and joy.
We will go with peace because those who bring Christ bring peace,
and well-being comes from being generous and loving in our deeds.
Our Lady of the Visitation,
through your inspiration, this World Youth Day
will be a shared celebration of Christ,
whom we bring to others, just as you did.
Please make this a time of testimony and sharing,
of fraternity and thanksgiving,
with each of us looking for opportunities to
give to those who are waiting to receive.
With you, we will continue on this path of encounter
so that our world will join us, too, in fraternity, justice, and peace.
Our Lady of the Visitation, to bring Christ to everyone,
in obedience to the Father and in the love of the Holy Spirit!
The World Youth Day Lisbon 2023 theme song, entitled “Há Pressa no Ar”, was released this Wednesday, 27th January. The song, inspired on the WYD Lisbon 2023 theme [“Mary rose up and went with haste (Lk 1:39)”], is about the ‘yes’ of Mary and about her rush to meet her cousin Elizabeth, just like the Bible verse says.
“Há Pressa no Ar” has lyrics by João Paulo Vaz, a priest, and music by Pedro Ferreira, teacher, and musician, both from the Diocese of Coimbra, in the centre region of Portugal. The arrangements were made by the musician Carlos Garcia. The theme song was recorded in two versions: in Portuguese and in an international version that gathers five languages (Portuguese, English, Spanish, French and Italian).
When singing this theme song, the young people from all over the world are invited to identify themselves with Mary, making themselves available to the service, the mission and the transformation of the world. The lyrics also evokes the party of the WYD and the joy that comes from Jesus.
World Youth Day is accompanied and represented by two symbols: the pilgrim cross and the icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani. In the months leading up to each WYD, the symbols set out on a pilgrimage to proclaim the Gospel and to accompany young people and their realities in a particularly special manner.
The way these symbols have been received and welcomed has borne considerable fruit all over the world. In Africa, they instigated young people to become a non-violent generation, were displayed at the forefront of several peace marches, and were touched and greeted by thousands of worshippers wearing the typical attire of their countries. They have also helped to bring about reconciliation in places of tension, such as East Timor.
The pilgrim cross
The 3.8 metre high pilgrim cross, built for the Holy Year in 1983, was entrusted to the young people on Palm Sunday of the following year by John Paul II, to be carried around the world. Since then, the pilgrimage of the wooden pilgrim cross has already taken it to five continents and almost 90 countries. It has been seen as a true sign of faith.
It has been carried on foot, by boat and even by unusual means such as sledges, cranes and tractors. It has been through the jungle, visited churches, juvenile detention centres, prisons, schools, universities, hospitals, monuments and shopping centres. It has also encountered many obstacles on its journey: from air strikes to transport difficulties, such as being unable to travel since it would not fit into any of the available planes.
It has asserted itself as a sign of hope in particularly sensitive locations. In 1985, it was in Prague, the current Czech Republic, at the time when Europe was divided by the iron curtain, and represented communion with the Pope. Shortly after 9/11, it travelled to Ground Zero in New York, where the terrorist attacks that killed almost 3,000 people had taken place. It also went to Rwanda in 2006, after the country had been plagued by civil war.
The icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani
Since 2003, the pilgrim cross has been accompanied by the icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani, which portrays the Virgin Mary with the Child in her arms. This icon was also introduced by Pope John Paul II as a symbol of Mary’s presence among young people. Standing 1.20 metres high and 80 centimetres wide, the icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani is associated with one of the most popular Marian devotions in Italy. Continuing an old tradition, it is carried in a procession through the streets of Rome, to ward off dangers and misfortunes or to put an end to plagues. The original icon is housed in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, in Rome, and is visited by Pope Francis who goes there to pray and to leave a bouquet of flowers prior to and upon return from each apostolic journey.
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