World Youth Day (WYD) is a worldwide encounter with the Pope celebrated about every three years in a different country. This year WYD will be held in Lisbon, Portugal.
Around 120 young people from Aotearoa have been travelling through Europe to attend WYD, with 11 of these pilgrims from the Diocese of Palmerston North. They join hundreds of thousands of other young people from across the globe, and have been exploring many Catholic sites in France as part of the pilgrimage, before heading off to Portugal to take part in WYD (August 1-6).
Rain Forest, Whanganui Youth Minister, has been posting regular updates on Facebook of the pilgrimage. Here are some of her reflections so far:
Day 1 in Paris – we went to so many beautiful sacred places … Had the most beautiful time in adoration at Sacré-Cœur basilica.
Day 2: We visited Lisieux where we learnt about and visited significant places in the life of Saint Thérèse, the little flower, and her parents Saints Ziele & Louis Martin. Saint Thérèse has been one of my favourite saints for a long time so it was incredibly wonderful to walk in the places she walked and pray in her chapel.
Day 3 highlights were learning more about Saint Bernadette and seeing her resting place, and being at the church where Suzanne Aubert was baptised.
Day 5: We visited Le Puy-en-Velay which was unreal! Amazing views, heaps of stairs, a giant statue of Mary you can climb inside of, the Cathedral of Le Puy and the Chapel Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe.
Day 7: We spent a full day in Lourdes; probably my favourite place so far. I lined up to go into the baths, I had water tipped into my hands three times: one to wash my hands, one to wash my face and one to drink just like Saint Bernadette. It was very special and I felt a deep sense of peace there. We had Mass at the Grotto in English, French and Spanish along with many other WYD pilgrims. We had the opportunity to sing Mō Maria to close the Mass; it was very moving to be able to sing this at the grotto.
Day 9: A chill day in Fatima, the first day in our pilgrimage where we could wake up when we wanted, do laundry and explore. We visited the houses of Lucia de Jesus, Francisco Marto and Jacinta Marto (the children who Mary appeared to at Fatima). Then the most incredible moment of the pilgrimage – I got invited to carry the statue of our lady of Fatima in the evening procession with 5 others from Aotearoa. It was amazing (she was sooooo heavy though because of all the water for the flowers) but it felt crazy, pretty unreal, and very very cool. I prayed for everyone back home!
Days 9-13: We have been hanging out in Pampilhosa da Serra in Portugal for Days of the Diocese, experiencing life in this small town and exploring the surrounding little villages Fajao and Janeiro. The houses are made of brink and they’re really cute, there are grape vines everywhere, and it’s super hot. We visited Coimbra for an afternoon. It’s a very cool city perched on a hill.
Our final night in Pampilhosa da Serra: We learnt some Portuguese dancing, the people cooked us a delicious meal and we had a huge party! Thanks for having us Pampilhosa da Serra – next stop: Lisbon!