Duration of the
World Youth Day


WYD is a multi-day event, with two main group of events: the first one is “Days in the Dioceses”, during which the youth visit different regions of the country, and, on this particular occasion, other Central American countries. During these days before the WYD, pilgrims interact with local families (who host them) and strengthen their faith through activities in each community. The second part is the “Main Events”, that is, the activities planned in the host city, which include the Youth Festival, Catechesis sessions and gatherings with the Holy Father.

Clergy participation


Many bishops, priests, religious and consecrated people, clergy, seminarians, and lay teachers also participate together with the youth at WYD, creating bonds between the laity and the clergy.

The beginning of WYD


WYD was established on December 20, 1985. During a Christmas gathering, Saint John Paul II told the Cardinals and workers of the Roman Curia that he wanted WYD to be held every year on Palm Sunday as a diocesan gathering and every two or three years as an international gathering in a destination of his choice.
  • 2016 - KRAKÓW, POLAND – POPE FRANCIS

    Like his predecessors St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis first spoke a few words to the young people from the balcony of the Archbishop's Palace in Kraków. Also, Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and a rose accompanied Pope Francis during his journey through the Polish streets aboard the popemobile.
  • 2013 - RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – POPE FRANCIS

    The staff from Rio de Janeiro’s Municipal Cleaning Company (Comlurb) was surprised by the ecological consciousness of the WYD pilgrims. Instead of finding rubbish scattered all over the beach, as seen in other mass events, Comlurb employees found the trash packed in plastic bags and collected at prescribed locations.
  • 2011 - MADRID, SPAIN – POPE BENEDICT XVI

    To conclude WYD in Madrid, a vocational encounter of the Neocatechumenal Way was organized in which 200 thousand people participated. During the encounter, Kiko Argüello addressed the youth: "If one of you brothers or sisters feels that the Lord calls you to dedicate your life to Jesus Christ, please stand up." Following this, about 5,000 men and 3,000 women rose and walked to the bishops to receive the blessing for the path of religious vocation.
  • 2008 - SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - POPE BENEDICT XVI

    WYD in Sydney was the first fully modern youth gathering that featured a strong multimedia presence, including a YouTube channel and Facebook engagement.
  • 2005 - COLOGNE, GERMANY – POPE BENEDICT XVI

    The hymn Jesus Christ You Are My Life was especially composed for the Pope’s visit to Germany. It quickly gained popularity and became the unofficial hymn of WYD encounters.
  • 2002 - TORONTO, CANADA – POPE JOHN PAUL II

    In February 2002 the pilgrim cross was placed in Ground Zero, in the ruins of the World Trade Center in New York.
  • 2000 - ROME, ITALY - POPE JOHN PAUL II

    In celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, 300 confessors were installed near Circo Massimo, where 2,000 priests served daily.
  • 1997 - PARIS, FRANCE - POPE JOHN PAUL II

    During the Pope's meeting with youth in Paris in 1997, more than half a million youth held hands and created the so-called “Chain of Brotherhood”, embracing the capital of France.
  • 1995 - MANILA, PHILIPPINES - POPE JOHN PAUL II

    The 1995 youth encounter with the Pope in Manila was inscribed in the Guinness World Records as the largest gathering in history.
  • 1993 - DENVER, USA - POPE JOHN PAUL II

    It was in Denver that for the first time the Stations of the Cross (i.e.: Via Crucis) were carried out in the streets of the city, a new WYD tradition.
  • 1991 - CZĘSTOCHOWA, POLAND - POPE JOHN PAUL II

    The "ABBA Ojcze" hymn was one of John Paul II's favorite songs. Until now, none of the hymns has gained as much popularity as this song, which unites Christians during other encounters with the Holy Father around the world or is sung during pilgrimages.
  • 1989 - SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA, SPAIN - POPE JOHN PAUL II

    The pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela prayed for peace, confessing that Jesus Christ is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (John 14:6). It turns out that two months later, the Berlin Wall fell and the following WYD was organized in 1991 in a completely free Poland.
  • 1987 - BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - JOHN PAUL II

    St. John Paul II pointed out that young people are protagonists of a double hope: for your youth, the hope of the Church; And for being from Latin America, continent of hope.
  • 1985 - ROME, ITALY - JOHN PAUL II

    According to the opinion of many, WYD is the most beautiful invention of Pope John Paul II. But he affirmed that "it is the young men who have invented WYD".