WYD Day Four: A “resurrection” finale at close of day

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Vatican Media’s correspondent in Lisbon, Francesca Merlo, describes the flood of emotions which young pilgrims experienced as they prayed the Way of the Cross with Pope Francis at World Youth Day.

Another day has ended here at World Youth Day in Lisbon. Emotions seemed to be the highest so far as young people embraced, in floods of tears, having just prayed the fourteen stations of the cross with Pope Francis.

The stage, positioned opposite the ocean – which was visible in the distance – represented the mountain, and station after station, the young dancers on stage pulled the cross up to the next level, higher and higher until it reached the summit: the resurrection.

Then the Pope offered his blessing and the tear flowed: tears of happiness, tears of joy, tired tears, and grateful tears.

In the Park, pilgrims embraced each other, and on stage, the dancers did the same as they queued up to greet Pope Francis. Months, if not years, of practice, and then it’s over. But the memories will remain forever, for them and for the estimated 800,000 pilgrims in the square.

Many of these young people had been waiting for hours, finding refuge from the sun in the shade of nearby trees, umbrellas, makeshift tents, and their little white WYD pilgrim hats.

For hours before the arrival of the Pope, flags and banners were waved up high – as one went down, another would come up, until Pope Francis, having finished his rounds amongst the crowd, arrived on stage.

That’s when even the tiredest of arms shot up with the heaviest of flags and the pilgrims broke out in chorus, singing the World Youth Day anthem.

Now, as the young people head out into the streets of Lisbon, and if it’s like any other day the celebrations will go on late into the evening, until tomorrow… until another day, another World Youth Day!


Our Digital Media Officer, Luegi Lopes, is experiencing her first World Youth Day in Lisbon. You can read Day Four here.