Spain: Preparations for World Youth Day 2011

Source: FSSPX News

According to the organizers, the 26th World Youth Day celebrations (WYD)—from August 16 to 21, 2011—are supposed to gather as many as one million young people from all over the world in the Spanish capital.  And for the second time Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela will welcome the pilgrims:  in 1989 as Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela, and now in 2011 as Archbishop of Madrid and President of the country’s conference of bishops.  Cardinal Rouco Varela thinks that this new WYD will show Spaniards that “the Catholic religion is still a valuable element that cannot be abandoned,” and that it has “solutions for overcoming the current crises”.

The communications department of the WYD anticipates the arrival of 4,500 journalists and the catechesis department is planning teaching sessions to be offered to the young people in 250 places of the Spanish capital, in a multitude of languages, including sign language.

A “pilgrim’s backpack” will be provided to each registered WYD participant;  it contains the “pass” for admission to the various events, many practical guides, a special edition of the liturgical booklet Magnificat for the occasion, a copy of the youth catechism YOUCAT, a rosary, a cap and a fan!  Even more innovative, each backpack contains a first-aid kit including a small crucifix to “heal souls”, as well as a bottle of alcohol-free beer.  Seven tons of rosaries from Ecuador are expected….

The young people will be able to use their restaurant-tickets in the cafes, bars and restaurants of the capital.  Over the course of the week the registered participants will receive 6 million meals.  The restaurateurs hope that the event will stimulate the local economy, which has been quite depressed by the international financial crisis.  Moreover 295 cultural events are scheduled during those days:  concerts, plays, exhibitions, films….

On Friday evening, August 19, in the streets of Madrid, the pope will lead a Way of the Cross in which each of the fourteen stations will be marked by processional statues.  The figures composing the stations are traditionally carried in procession during Holy Week through all of Spain;  some of these devotional works of art date back to the 17th and 18th centuries.  By way of exception they have been transported from their native towns to Madrid for the WYD celebrations.

On August 20 the pope will celebrate Mass for almost 4,000 seminarians from all over the world in Almudena Cathedral, a few steps away from the Royal Palace.  In the sacristy of the cathedral, at the conclusion of the Mass, Benedict XVI will converse with the head of the Spanish opposition, Marian Rajoy, whom the next expected elections could induct as the country’s leader.  Outside the cathedral, which was dedicated by John Paul II in 1993, cranes have hoisted to the heights of the edifice two gigantic white marble statues of the archangels St. Michael and St. Gabriel.

The vigil on Saturday, August 20, will be held on the grounds of the Cuatro Vientos airfield.  After a talk by Benedict XVI and before concluding with fireworks, the vigil will continue with a time of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  A monstrance made of gold and silver and almost ten feet tall [3 meters], a 16th-century work of art from Toledo, will appear thanks to an ingenious elevator system in the middle of the podium on which the pope will stand.  This podium—650 feet long and 65 feet high—is topped by a gigantic metallic tree.

Statistics for the Catholic Church in Spain, as of last December 31, establish that Spain, with 505,992 square kilometers and a population of 46,073,000, has 42,470,000 Catholics (92.18%).  The Church has 70 ecclesiastical districts, 22,890 parishes, 126 bishops, 24,778 priests, 1,866 seminarians, 1,258 postulants, 54,184 religious, 2,826 consecrated laymen and 99,581 catechists.  Catholic education, from kindergarten to the university, is provided to 1,461,899 students in 5,535 institutions.  The Church runs 77 hospitals, 54 out-patient facilities, 1 leprosarium, 803 retreat houses, 391 orphanages and day-care centers, 293 pro-life family centers, 3,323 specialized social centers and 632 other miscellaneous facilities.  See also in this edition the analysis by Cornelia R. Ferreira of the WYD in Toronto in 2002. (Sources: apic/imedia/madrid11/VIS - DICI no. 239 dated August 13, 2011)

You can also read:

World Youth Day, From Catholicism to Counterchurch