The WYD Cross
The wooden cross, which today is called "The World Youth Day Cross," was made in 1983 to celebrate the beginning of the Holy Year of Jubilee of the Redemption (25/03/1983 – 22/04/1984). During the opening celebration of the Holy Year, young people carried this cross to Saint Peter’s Basilica, where it remained for the duration of the Jubilee. Set beside Saint Peter’s tomb, the cross was present during all the celebrations and accompanied the groups of pilgrims who came to the Vatican. Many young people responded to the Holy Father’s invitation, including young people from various movements and communities. These youth asked the Pope to give them the cross after the end of the Holy Year celebrations. The Holy Father granted their wish and on Easter Sunday, he gave them the Jubilee Cross.
The first World Youth Day was celebrated on Palm Sunday.
This event was not only the beginning of the journey of the cross throughout the world but also of the herald of World Youth Days, that is, the encounter during which the youth personally experienced the Mystery of Redemption and then spread it throughout the world to their peers, families, and fellow citizens. That is why the first World Youth Day (and to this day, Diocesan Youth Day) was celebrated on Palm Sunday- right before Easter.
The youth took the cross to their home (the San Lorenzo Center), a youth center founded by Saint John Paul II in the Vatican. The cross permanently remains in this location and from there it is carried by the youth. It was first taken to Germany for Catholic Days (1984), and later to other European countries.
Important Facts of the Cross
Up to this day, the cross has visited all continents, including countries at war and conflict.
It was taken to New York City, where prayers were held on the site of the attacks of the World Trade Center.
It was taken to Rwanda, a country that struggled from the consequences of a bloody civil war.
It has also been to the UN headquarters, small schools, hospitals, and prisons.
The Icon of Our Lady
Salus Populi Romani
The icon of Our Lady of Salus Populi Romani is the most venerated image of the Virgin Mary in Italy.
The title "Protectress of the Roman People" dates back to the events at the end of the 6th century, when the inhabitants of Rome suffered from a plague.
First appearance at WYD
Our Lady of Salus Populi Romani appeared for the first time at a World Youth Day in the year 2000, when a copy of the icon was placed on the Papal altar in Tor Vergata.
Three years later, during the Diocesan WYD Day, the Pope urged the youth to come closer to Jesus through Mary. In his message for World Youth Day 2003 he said:
“Mary was given to you to help you enter into a more authentic and more personal relationship with Jesus. Through her example, Mary teaches us to gaze upon him with love, for He has loved us first.”
The World Youth Day is accompanied by its symbols:
• In 590, Pope St. Gregory the Great, while carrying the image of the Protectress of the Roman People (Salus Populi Romani) after a procession pleading for the salvation of the city, spotted an angel in the sky who was sheathing the punishment sword. Soon after, the plague ceased.
Today, the original icon remains in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore. Pope Francis usually begins and ends his pilgrimages by visiting this Basilica.
Pope John Paul II gave the youth the replica of the icon for it to be carried around the world together with the WYD Cross. With this gesture, he passed on his legacy: the motto "Totus Tuus", which is passed on to younger generations with the help of Our Lady "of the World Youth Day".
In 1987, the second World Youth Day (and the first one outside of Italy) was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and for the first time the WYD Cross traveled outside Europe, beginning its pilgrimage around the world.
In Rome, on Palm Sunday (April 9, 2017), Pope Francis gave both symbols to Panamanian youth beginning the pilgrimage of the Cross and Icon through the dioceses of Panama The symbols will later visit other countries in the Americas.
The way of the WYD symbols on live
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📍 Sunday, August 19
Visit of the Pilgrim Cross and the Icon of Holy Mary to the Archdiocese of Chicago
📍Tuesday, August 21
Visit of the Pilgrim Cross and the Icon of Holy Mary to the JS Paluch National Vocation Awareness Seminar in Miami, Florida
📍 Wednesday, August 22
Visit of the Pilgrim Cross and the Icon of Holy Mary to the Archdiocese of Miami with the Southeast Pastoral Institute on Hispanic Ministry (SEPI)
📍Thursday, August 23
Visit of the Pilgrim Cross and the Icon of Holy Mary to the Archdiocese of Galveston - Houston
📍Friday August 24
Visit of the Pilgrim Cross and the Icon of Holy Mary to the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart and University of Saint Thomas in Houston
📍Saturday August 25
Visit of the Pilgrim Cross and the Icon of Holy Mary to the National Mall in Washington DC and the St. John Paul II National Shrine
📍Day August 26
Visit of the Pilgrim Cross and the Icon of Holy Mary to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles