Over thirty years ago, at the first World Youth Day in 1984, Pope John Paul II entrusted young people with the task of carrying the Holy Cross into the world as a sign of Christ's love for humanity. He gave them a simple wooden Cross and an Icon of Mary, charging them with the mission of proclaiming Christ crucified to the world by bearing witness to His sacrificial love. This summer, Saint John Paul II's mission to young people continues as on August 25 the World Youth Day Cross makes its pilgrimage to Washington DC for a day of prayer, celebration, and rich cultural activities. Join us as the World Youth Day Cross is once again lifted up by youth and young adults who will carry forward a witness of hope, dignity, and love into the heart of our nation's capital!
The day begins on the National Mall with a historic, youth and young adult led procession of the WYD Cross and Icon to four of the nation's most prominent monuments. From the steps of Lincoln, the Cross will process to the inspiring Martin Luther King Memorial, before carrying on to the Washington Monument and finally the Smithsonian Castle. Moments of thoughtful prayer will be held along the way, while registered groups of youth and young adults will bear the Cross, carrying on the tradition Pope John Paul II first started over thirty years ago!
Following the procession, all are welcome to accompany the Cross as it continues its pilgrimage to the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. Once there, youth and young adults may venerate the Cross and join all of us at the Shrine in a liturgical celebration, featuring adoration, special musical guests, and a nationally acclaimed keynote speaker. All those attending will have opportunity to tour the Shrine and to share in a unique pavilion celebrating the rich culture heritage of Panama, host of the 2019 World Youth Day. Lastly, the Cross will make one final procession to the National Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, where Sunday Mass with will be celebrated. For a full schedule, please see the "Event Details" page.
Sometimes called the "Jubilee Cross" or "Pilgrim Cross," this humble wooden cross has prominently stood at every World Youth Day since its inception and is a restoration of the same Cross Pope John Paul II first entrusted to youth over thirty years ago. Since that time, the WYD Cross has traversed the globe, traveling to every continent and visiting countless countries. The Cross has been venerated by millions and been a prominent symbol of the unity of the world's young people for over a generation. Today, the WYD Cross continues its mission of calling forth young people from every culture, nation, and tradition and uniting them in their sacred mission of bringing Christ's sacrificial love into the heart of the modern world. In its first official return to the United States since the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver, the WYD Cross now comes to our nation's capital, calling on all youth and young adults to bear witness to their faith before the world.
The Holy Icon
The Icon is a traditional image of the Virgin Mary known across Italy as the "Salvadora del Pueblo Romano" or "Savior of the People of Rome." The title derives its origins from the sixth century, when Pope Gregory the Great is said to have cured the city of Rome of the plague by processing an image of the Blessed Virgin. The Icon was added to the pilgrimage of the WYD Cross by Pope John Paul II in 2003, who upheld Mary as a model of faith and a guide to all those in search of her Son.