Pope Francis with the Youth in Rio de Janeiro
"Go and make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28, 19)
They are the young, the protagonists of this great gathering of faith, hope and unity. WYD's main objective is to make known to all youth in the world the message of Christ, but it is also true that, through them, the 'face' Young Christ is also shown to the world.
The World Youth Day, held annually in the dioceses of the world, provides every 2 or 3 years an international meeting of young people with the Pope, which lasts about a week. The latest edition of the International Youth Day was held in August 2011, in Madrid, Spain, and brought together more than 190 countries.
The WYDs has its origin in large meetings with the youth celebrated by Pope John Paul II in Rome. The international youth meeting on the occasion of the Holy Year of Redemption came in 1984, in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican. It was there that the Pope gave to the WYD Cross which became one of the main symbols of WYD, known as the Cross Day.
The following year, 1985 was declared International Youth Year by the United Nations. In March there was another international meeting of the youths in the Vatican and the same year the Pope announced the institution of World Youth Day.
The first was diocesan WYD in Rome in 1986. This was followed by meetings worldwide: in Buenos Aires (Argentina - 1987), with the participation of 1 million youths; in Santiago de Compostela - Spain in 1989 with 600 000 thousand; Czestochowa - Poland in 1991 with 1.5 million youths; in Denver - USA in 1993 with 500 000 thousand; Manila - Philippines in 1995 with 4 million; in Paris - France in 1997 with 1 million; in Rome - Italy in 2000 with 2 million; in Toronto - Canada in 2002 with 800 000 thousand; in Cologne - Germany in 2005 with 1 million; in Sydney - Australia in 2008 with 500 000 thousand and in Madrid - Spain in 2011 with 2 million.
In addition to being in another country, with its tourist charms, participation in the day requires a prepared body for the pilgrimage and an open heart to the wonders that God has in store for each one. They are catechesis, testimonies, sharing, examples of love of your neighbour and the Church, music festivals and cultural activities. Finally, it is a meeting of hearts that are driven by the same belief and hope that the diversity in fraternity is possible.