06 April 2020

Transferring the Cross postponed until the feast of Christ the King

The Holy Father has announced the new date for the young people of Panama to hand on the World Youth Day Cross to the youth of Lisbon. This symbolic gesture, previously set for Palm Sunday, had been postponed due to the global health emergency.


In his reflection before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed young people, who are celebrating the 35th World Youth Day in their own dioceses, the majority of them doing so in alternative ways while at home: “Today, it had been planned that the young people of Panama would pass on the Cross to the young people of Lisbon. This evocative gesture is postponed until the feast of Christ the King, next 22 November. While awaiting this moment, I urge you young people to cultivate and be witnesses of the hope, the generosity, and the solidarity we all need in this difficult time.”


In his homily, Pope Francis also wished to encourage young people: “Dear friends, look at all the true heroes who have come to light these days: they are not those with fame, money, and success, but rather those who give themselves over to the service of others. May you feel called to offer your own lives. Do not be afraid to spend your life for God and for others, because in this way you will gain it! Because life is a gift that can only be received by giving oneself. And because the greatest joy is to say ‘yes’ to love—with no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts.’ Say yes to love, no ifs or buts, as Jesus did for us.”


For years, after the international meeting for World Youth Day the Cross and the icon of Mary—the symbols of World Youth Day—have been presented to youth representing the diocese in which the next international meeting will be held, during the celebration of Palm Sunday presided by the Holy Father in St. Peter’s Square.


This tradition dates back to 1984, when at the conclusion of the Jubilee Year of Redemption, Pope John Paul II entrusted the Jubilee Cross to young people, saying: “I entrust to you the very sign of this Jubilee Year: the Cross of Christ! Bear it out into the world, as a sign of the love of the Lord Jesus for humanity, and announce to all that only in Christ, who died and rose again, is there salvation and redemption.” From that point on this cross, known today as the Youth Cross or the Cross of WYD, has been at the center of all the World Youth Days. Since 2003 a copy of the icon Maria Salus Populi Romani (“Mary, health of the Roman people”) has accompanied the young pilgrims as well, as this icon was also entrusted to young people by St. John Paul II as a sign of Mary’s maternal presence among them.