Duration of the
World Youth Day


WYD is a multi-day event with two main group of events: the first one is related to the “Days in the Dioceses”, during which the participants visit to different dioceses in the host country, and on this particular occasion, other Central American countries. During these days before WYD, pilgrims interact with local families (who host them) and strengthen their faith through activities with the communities in the parishes. The second group is the “Main Events”, referring to the activities planned in the host city: the opening mass, the welcoming of the pope, the way of the cross, the vigil with the Holy Father and the final mass. As well, there are other activities which young people can choose and live out the WYD experience: the Youth Festival, catechesis sessions, vocational center, concerts, and so on. .

Clergy participation


Numerous bishops, priests, religious and consecrated people, clergy, novices, and lays take part in the encounter together with the youth, creating bonds between the laity and the clergy.

The WYD beginning


WYD was established on December 20th, 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 meeting for young people in each diocese of the world, and every two or three years as an international encounter in a destination of his choice.
  • 2016 - KRAKÓW, POLAND – POPE FRANCIS

    Following the example of his predecessors St. John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis addressed the young people and participants for the first time in WYD Cracow 2016 from the balcony of the Archbishop's Palace. Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal and a rose accompanied Pope Francis during his journey through the Polish streets aboard the pope mobile.
  • 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 them at designated locations.
  • 2011 - MADRID, SPAIN – POPE BENEDICT XVI

    To conclude WYD in Madrid, a vocational encounter of the Neocatechumenal Way was organized. 200 thousand people participated in it. During this meeting, Kiko Argüello said the youth: "If one of you, brothers or sisters feels that the Lord is calling you to dedicate your lives to Jesus Christ, please stand up…" Following this, about 5,000 men and 3,000 women rose and walked towards the bishops to receive a blessing for their 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 anthem song “Jesus Christ you are my life” was especially composed for the Pope’s visit to Germany. It quickly gained popularity and became the unofficial anthem of all WYD gatherings.
  • 2002 - TORONTO, CANADA – POPE JOHN PAUL II

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

    To celebrate 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 where the Stations of the Cross (Via Crucis) were carried out for the first time in the streets of the city. This began a new WYD tradition.
  • 1991 - CZĘSTOCHOWA, POLAND - POPE JOHN PAUL II

    The anthem "Abba Ojcze" was one of John Paul II's favorite songs. No other WYD anthem has gained as much popularity as this one, which unites Christians during other meetings with the Holy Father around the world; it is even 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 turned 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".