The WYD Cross on pilgrimage towards Lisbon 2023

Pope Francis announces: starting in 2021, diocesan World Youth Days to be celebrated on the Solemnity of Christ the King

A new stage in the pilgrimage of the World Youth Day symbols began today—symbols which will visit Portugal and other Portuguese-speaking countries as part of the spiritual preparation for World Youth Day in Lisbon in 2023. The traditional handing on of the Cross, along with a copy of the icon Maria Salus Populi Romani (the two symbols of WYD) took place in the presence of the Holy Father at the end of Mass on the Solemnity of Christ the King.

“This is an important step in the pilgrimage that will lead us to Lisbon in 2023,” said Pope Francis during the ceremony. “And as we prepare for the next intercontinental World Youth Day, I would like to relaunch its celebration in local Churches.”

Thirty-five years after the institution of World Youth Day, the Holy Father has announced the decision, effective next year, to transfer the annual diocesan celebration of World Youth Day in local Churches from Palm Sunday to the Solemnity of Christ the King. With this announcement, Pope Francis reiterated the invitation to young people, who are called to be witnesses of the Christian faith: “Dear young people, cry out with your life that Christ lives and reigns! If you keep silent, the stones will cry out!” said the Pontiff. Leading the preparation for the next World Youth Day, two small delegations of Central American and Portuguese youth were present at the Eucharistic celebration. They were joined by the patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal Manuel Clemente; and two auxiliary bishops of Lisbon, Bishop Americo Aguiar and Bishop Joaquim Mendes. Through the live coverage of Vatican News, young people from all over the world were able to participate spiritually in the Mass; along with youth ministry leaders of episcopal conferences and international ecclesial movements, who from Wednesday through Saturday met “virtually” during the international online meeting organized by our Dicastery: “From Panama to Lisbon—called to missionary synodality.”

During the homily of the mass, the Pope also invited young people not to give up on their big dreams. “Let's not settle for what is merely required. The Lord does not want us to narrow our horizons, He does not want us parked on the sidelines of life, but rather running towards high goals with joy and audacity. We are not made to dream of vacations or weekends, but we are made to fulfill God’s dreams in this world,” said the Pope, reminding young people that great dreams have their origins in the great choices of daily life: “Banal choices lead to a banal life, great choices make life great. In fact, we become what we choose, for better or for worse. (…) If we choose God we become more beloved every day, and if we choose to love we become happy.”

Currently, in response to the invitation from our Dicastery, young people all over the world are sharing, through virtual means on social media, their memories of encounters with the symbols of WYD, the Cross and the icon of Maria Salus Populi Romani, using the hashtag: #takeupthecross

22 November 2020