World Youth Day 2016, the largest youth gathering in the world will be here before you know it
The first official World Youth Day was held in 1986 in Rome, instituted by Pope John Paul II, but began in 1984 when over 300,000 young people from around the world came to Rome at the invitation of Pope John Paul II for an International Jubilee of youth on Palm Sunday in St. Peter’s square. As he looked out at the crowds of jubilant young people, the pope said:
What a fantastic spectacle is presented on this stage by your gathering here today! Who claimed that today’s youth has lost their sense of values? Is it really true that they cannot be counted on?
According to the WYD 2016 web site, it was at this gathering that the Holy Father entrusted what is now known as the “World Youth Day Cross,” to the youth. The cross is carried throughout the world as a symbol of the love Jesus Christ has for all humanity.
Every Palm Sunday is designated as a World Youth Day, alternately celebrated at the diocesan and international levels and there have been 12 International World Youth Day celebrations to date. The theme of the WYD 2016 will be a continuation of a reflection on the Beatitudes with an emphasis on the mercy of God, in conjunction with the Jubilee Year of Mercy:
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7)
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