April 15, 2024
News Vatican

8 unique things to know about World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon

The 37th World Youth Day gets underway with Mass celebrated by the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, providing hundreds of thousands of young people their first opportunity to share their faith journey.

By Francesca Merlo – Lisbon, Portugal

In a flurry of excitement and joy, the first day of World Youth Day came to a close with music playing late into the evening.

The opening Mass, held in Lisbon’s Edward VII Park on Tuesday, August 1st, brought together pilgrims from all corners of the world.

Adanna and Francis, brimming with enthusiasm, likened their feelings to being in the presence of the Pope as they handed me a green and white beaded bracelet, reminiscent of the flag of Nigeria, their home.

They shared stories of the gifts exchanged with fellow pilgrims, including rosaries, bracelets, and flags. However, for them, the true gifts of this experience were spiritual and human connections.

Adanna and Francis proudly brought their culture, traditions, and blessings from their homeland to share with others. Among the crowd, thousands of pilgrims, each carrying their own cultures and traditions had just received the Eucharist.

Opening Mass

The opening Mass of World Youth Day served as a poignant opportunity for pilgrims to come together in prayer, laughter, and music, sharing their unique reasons for traveling across the world to participate in this extraordinary event.

The Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon warmly welcomed everyone, exclaiming “bemvindos!” (welcome) as he opened the Mass, overlooking Edward VII Park. He centered his homily around this year’s theme,ย “Mary arose and went with haste”.

Cardinal Manuel Clemente emphasised that all present were on a journey, one that might have been challenging due to the distance, connections, and expenses required for the trip. Despite these obstacles, he emphasised the importance of embarking on such journeys, likening them to the journeys of life, where each day presents a new segment.

“Lisbon welcomes you wholeheartedly, and so do all the other lands in Portugal where you have been or will be,” assured Cardinal Clemente, offering a warm embrace to all those gathered.

To those who could not be there

For many of the attendees, this marks a new and meaningful chapter in their lives. Adanna and Francis, ever thoughtful, acknowledged the pilgrims and young people who couldn’t join them in Lisbon due to the distance and expenses involved.

“Nigeria is far, and the journey is expensive,” Adanna remarked. However, they firmly believe that those who were unable to make it in person to Lisbon are present in spirit, and she prayed for their well-being. They kindly requested prayers from those who couldn’t make it, reinforcing the bond that connects all participants, regardless of their physical presence.

As World Youth Day gets underway, the atmosphere of unity, faith, and cultural exchange will undoubtedly foster lasting memories and friendships among the global youth community.

The spirit of compassion, understanding, and togetherness will resonate far beyond this momentous occasion, carrying the encounter with Christ, which is the essence of World Youth Day, to every corner of the world.

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