What is World Youth Day?
World Youth Day (WYD) is a meeting of young people from all over the world, gathered to celebrate and learn about their faith. It is a great worldwide encounter with the Pope which is celebrated every three years in a different country and is one of the primary means by which the Church proclaims the message of Christ to and expresses its concern for young people. The upcoming World Youth Day will take place in Madrid, Spain on August 16-21, 2011.
Pope John Paul II began World Youth Day in the 1980′s, and the tradition has continued with Pope Benedict XVI. The last three WYDs were held in Sydney, Australia (2008); Cologne, Germany (2005); and Toronto, Canada (2002). Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims of high school, college, and young adult age come from all over the world to join in these celebrations of the universal Church.
After these days of catechesis and festival, the final weekend of World Youth Day is structured after the pattern of the Easter Triduum. On Friday there is a city-wide stations of the cross. Pilgrims gather in different groups at the locations of the various stations around the city. The whole procession is filmed and shown live on jumbotron screens at each of the locations, so that there are literally hundreds of thousands of people all over the city joined in common prayer.
On Saturday all the pilgrims set out from their various host schools, churches, and family homes to make a pilgrimage ride/walk to the location of the final outdoor prayer vigil and Sunday Mass. The pope comes Saturday evening to lead this massive congregation in a beautiful candlelit prayer vigil. Afterwards, the pilgrims lay out sleeping bags to spend the night under the stars. The pope then comes back in the morning to celebrate Sunday Mass with the world’s “parish.”
Visit the official site of World Youth Day at www.madrid11.com.