Thousands of young Catholic pilgrims have descended on the streets of Lisbon, Portugal, to celebrate World Youth Day — with over 400,000 people registered to take part in the week-long event.
The event for young people, organised by the Catholic Church, was first initiated by Pope John Pail II in 1985. The global gathering, held every three years, will take place from 1-6 August, with the goal of helping the young to deepen their faith alongside hundreds of thousands of others.
Some took to social media to share lively footage of the busy streets, as pilgrims travelled from the Marian Shrine of Fatima to the Portuguese capital for the occasion:
WYD party in Lisbon is in full swing pic.twitter.com/LTOku3OR4O
— Fr Neil Peoples (@RevNeilPeoples) August 1, 2023
Pope Francis’s 5-day visit to Portugal will be the second of his pontificate, and will see the Pope visit the shrine of Fatima this Saturday – where he will lead prayer, accompanied by those who are sick. According to organisers of the event, over 400,000 registrations have been received from youth across the world – something they say is evidence of the “enthusiasm” surrounding the international gathering.
Lisbon will be the 13th city to host the event, which is described by organisers as the largest youth gathering in the world.
The Pope, the oldest pontiff to mark the event, asked for prayers as he began his journey to the Portuguese capital:
I ask you to accompany me with prayer on my Journey to Portugal for World Youth Day. To the Virgin Mary, shining star of the Christian journey who is highly venerated in Portugal, I entrust the #WYD pilgrims and all the young people of the world.
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) August 1, 2023
The Irish Catholic Bishops, meanwhile, described the numbers already in attendance as being in the “hundreds of thousands” on Tuesday.
— CatholicBishops (@CatholicBishops) August 1, 2023
EWTN journalist Colm Flynn shared footage of the impressive turnout on Twitter, saying the turnout to the Catholic event definitely did not align with predictions of low attendance from sceptics of the event:
Some skeptics said young people wouldn’t come to Lisbon for World Youth Day to celebrate their Catholic faith….. pic.twitter.com/MnogLLYdD8
— Colm Flynn (@colmflynnire) August 1, 2023
Organisers say that the event promises to be “a catalyst for personal growth and renewal of faith”. Young pilgrims will be able to engage in discussions, workshops, and prayer sessions throughout the week.