WYD Day Three: Pilgrims and the Pope finally together

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Young people really were the protagonists of this third day of WYD, the first full day of Pope Francis in Lisbon.

Thursday morning, in fact, opened with the first meeting between the Pope and young people, more specifically university students, at the Portuguese Catholic University.

José was the first to express his excitement to us, “front row seats at the Pope’s first event with young people, and it’s in my university in my hometown… I feel very lucky”, he said. During that meeting, just a few metres from José, Pope Francis reminded the university students that it is education that will save the world, and that what they learn they will later be able to teach.

Shortly after the encouraging words to the university students, Pope Francis travelled to meet with the young people of Scholas Occurrentes, adding his colourful touch to the mural that decorates the walls of the structure. There, surrounded by paint, he expressed that the drawings above his head made him feel as though he were speaking from the Sistine Chapel – somewhat close to home.

But the real meeting, the one everyone had been waiting for, came in the afternoon, when the Holy Father arrived in the Edward VII Park, where he drove around the crowds of pilgrims. You could tell where he turned a corner because, in a sort of domino effect, the pilgrims got up from where they had been sitting for hours, and began to run towards the fence, waving, picking up other pilgrims on the way.

Then, the official welcome ceremony offered a message of hope, just as the young people had hoped for, all of them, but in a particular way those who sacrificed a lot to be there.

In such a devastated world, ravaged by wars, by climate change, political disasters, poverty and hunger, hope is what we all really need, and Pope Francis is quite the bringer of hope.

But it is not only those living in difficult conditions at home who need hope, everyone does.

Many of the young people in Lisbon for World Youth Day have spoken of internal conflict, of fear of being different, of not being accepted.

For everyone, young and old, Pope Francis’ words in the Edward VII Park will have renewed the joy already so present in their hearts: “The Church has space for everyone, everyone, everyone, everyone,” said the Pope. The 550,000 young pilgrims present in the Park repeated it, too. “This is the Church”, concluded the Pope.


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