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What is WYD?
World Youth Day is an international meeting of youth from all over the world who gather together in one place with their catechists, priests, bishops and the pope in order to profess faith in Jesus Christ.
Who began WYD?
The founder and first host of World Youth Day was St. John Paul II. He gathered youth in Rome (1984, 1985, 2000), Buenos Aires (1987), Santiago de Compostela (1989), Czestochowa (1991), Denver (1993), Manila (1995), Paris (1997) and Toronto (2002).
WYD – the Pope and the youth. Together.
When St. John Paul II passed away, Pope Benedict XVI became the successor of this beautiful dialogue between the Church and the youth as well as a great advocate of World Youth Day. He presided over the meetings in Cologne (2005), Sydney (2008) and Madrid (2011). Thanks to the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI, Christ has been constantly preached and adored by the youth around the world, and the Church has been able to convey its youthful and joyful image, which is so necessary in the contemporary world.
In 2013 (in Rio de Janeiro), Pope Francis met with the youth. He also announced that the next meeting would take place in Cracow, Poland, in 2016.
The first two meetings (1984 and 1985) were organized on the occasion of the Extraordinary Redemption Jubilee (1983-1984) and the International Year of the Youth (1985), but were not yet called World Youth Day. These encounters provided the Holy Father with an incentive to undertake the blessed initiative which continues to this day.
The date of the December 20th, 1985 is regarded as the day that World Youth Day was established. While exchanging Christmas greetings with Cardinals and the Roman Curia employees, John Paul II expressed his wish to hold the World Youth Day every year on Palm Sunday as a diocesan meeting, and every two or three years as an international meeting in a place appointed by him.
Community, formation and joy of faith
The established objective of the World Youth Days is to experience the great community of the Universal Church, listen to the Word of God, receive the sacraments of penance and the Eucharist as well as joyfully preaching Jesus Christ as the Lord and Saviour.
Symbols of the WYD: the Cross and the Icon
The meetings are accompanied by two particular gifts given by St. John Paul II. They are the World Youth Day Cross and the Icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani. These symbols are not only with the youth during WYD, but they continuously circle the globe, bringing together every day hundreds and thousands of people for prayer and adoration.
On Palm Sunday, April 13th, 2014, the symbols were passed on to the Polish youth in Rome by the Holy Father, and the pilgrimage of the WYD Cross and Icon began in the dioceses of Poland as well as several countries of Eastern Europe.
WYD – thematic meetings
Each WYD has a theme on which the youth meditate when gathering in their language groups and countries. The theme is chosen by the Holy Father. During the international WYDs, the content is expanded to three meetings called the catechesis triduum.
How long is the WYD?
WYD is a multiday event. Currently there are two essential components: the first is “Days in Dioceses” during which the youth stay in different areas of the host country; the second is the “Central Events” which last for one week in the primary host city.