History of World Youth Day
The first World Youth Day of the Catholic Church was idealized by Pope John Paul II and officially took place on Palm Sunday 1984 in Rome, where the second WYD was also held in the following year. Since then, Catholic and non-Catholic pilgrims have traveled throughout the world every two or three years to celebrate life, unity among peoples and the message of faith and hope preached by Jesus Christ.
In 1987, young people were invited to travel to Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, where one million participants heard Pope John Paul II proclaim: “I repeat before you what I have been saying since the first day of my pontificate: that you are the hope of the Pope, the hope of the Church”.
Two years later, 500,000 young people made a pilgrimage to the Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela. In 1991, 1.6 million people came together at the Marian sanctuary in the Polish city of Czestochowa. The next encounter took place in 1993, in Denver, United States of America, with 600,000 participants.
The largest encounter of all occurred in 1995 in Manila, in the Philippines, where four million young people applauded the words of John Paul II.
In 1997, thousands of young men and women responded to the invitation put forward by John Paul II to the World Youth Day in Paris, which brought together 1.2 million people. Three years later, two million young people met the Pope again in Rome for the Jubilee celebrations in 2000.
In 2002, the WYD crossed the Atlantic and took place in Toronto, Canada, where 800,000 people united in the final encounter of Catholic youth with Pope John Paul II, who passed away in 2004.
In the following year, 2005, Pope Benedict XVI made the first international trip of his papacy to Cologne, Germany, where he presided at the World Youth Day festivities. This event brought together 1.1 million participants.
In 2008, 400,000 young people met in Sydney, Australia, for the 12th World Youth Day. The most recent encounter occurred in Madrid, capital of Spain, in 2011, with the participation of more than 1.2 million young people from 170 different countries.