The Cross
de la JMJ

The wooden cross, which nowadays 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 accompanied the ensuing celebrations and groups of pilgrims who came to the Vatican. Also among them were young people who were representatives of movements and communities who collectively responded to the invitation of the Holy Father. The 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 Resurrection Sunday, he handed 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, youth days in dioceses) was celebrated on Palm Sunday- right before Easter.

The Beginning

The youth took the cross to their home (the San Lorenzo Center), a youth center founded by Saint John Paul II in 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.
Besides this cross, prayers were held on the site of the attacks of the World Trade Center in New York City.
The cross was taken to Rwanda, a country that struggled from the consequences of the bloody civil war.
It has also been in 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 belongs to the image of the most venerated Virgin 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

Three years later, during the WYD Days in the Dioceses, 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 pleading procession 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.
The Pope gave the youth the replica of the icon for it to be carried around the world together with the cross. With this gesture, he passed on his legacy, the motto "Totus Tuus", which is transmitted 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, and for the first time the cross traveled outside Europe, beginning its pilgrimage around the world.
In Rome, on Palm Sunday (April 9, 2017), Pope Francis gave both symbols to young Panamanians and thus the pilgrimage of the cross and the icon began. The symbols will first visit the dioceses of Panama and will later visit other countries in the Americas.