Over 30 years travelling the world and reaching out to young people
It is known as the “Holy Year Cross”, the “Jubilee Cross”, the “WYD Cross”, the “Pilgrim Cross”. Many call it the “Youth Cross” as it was given to young people to take around the world to any place at any time. Here is the story of that Cross.
It was the Holy Year of the Redemption (1983-1984). Pope John Paul II felt that there should be a cross – the symbol of our faith – near the main altar in Saint Peter’s Basilica where it could be seen by everyone. A large wooden Cross, 3.8 metres high, was placed there according to the Holy Father’s desire.
At the end of the Holy Year, after the Pope had closed the Holy Door, he entrusted that Cross to the youth of the world, represented by the young people from the San Lorenzo Youth Centre in Rome. His words on that occasion were:
"My dear young people, at the conclusion of the Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the Cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity, and proclaim to everyone that it is only in Christ, who died and rose from the dead, that salvation and redemption are to be found" (Rome, 22 April 1984).
The youth responded to the Holy Father’s request. They took it to the San Lorenzo Youth Centre beside Saint Peter’s Square, and this was to be its home when it was not away on pilgrimage around the world. The first pilgrimage of the Holy Year Cross (as it was known then) took place in July. The destination was Munich in Germany for the “Katholikentag”. It was just a simple wooden cross. At first sight, people did not see that it was anything special. Little by little they realised that it had come on a mission by desire of the Holy Father. At the final Eucharistic celebration in the city stadium with 120,000 people present, it was beside the altar for all to see.
Great distances are being covered, and more and more young people are being touched by the WYD Cross and Icon. The pilgrimage continues, passing from hand to hand, country to country and generation to generation...