World Youth Day (or in short 'WYD') was initiated by Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1985. It is celebrated diocesan level annually, and at a week-long international level every two to three years at different locations Rome (2000), Toronto (2003), Cologne (2006) Sydney (2008). The international level events attract hundreds of thousands of youth from almost every country on the planet.
This year WYD 2011 is being hosted in Madrid and the theme is "Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in faith" (Col 2:7). Spain becomes the first country aside from Italy and Vatican City to host WYD twice. The last time WYD was in Spain was in 1989 in Santiago de Compestella
Each WYD has its own theme song which is a reflection on the overall theme of the celebration. This year's song is "Firm in Faith" (click to listen and it will open in a seperate tab).
This years WYD has the following patron saints:
- St John of the Cross (Carmelite saint and mystic)
- St Ignatious of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits)
- St Francis Xavier (Missionary extraordinaire)
- St Isidore the Worker
- St Maria of the Head
- St Rafael Arnaiz
- St John of Avila
- St Teresa of Avila (re-founder of the Carmelite order and mystic)
- St Rose of Lima
- Blessed Pope John Paul II
Pope Benedict XVI will be attending WYD and will lead the Vigil and final Mass of the celebration. But, he reminds us all that "I am not the star......I am only the vicar. I point beyond myself to the Other who is in our midst."