On Saturday, Aug. 25, the World Youth Day Cross returned to the U.S. for the third time in 25 years.
The Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. hosted the official World Youth Day Cross and Icon as part of the international procession in advance of the World Youth Day event in Panama this coming January.
The cross traveled from Chicago, Miami, and Houston to Washington, D.C., before departing to Los Angeles.
While in the Washington, D.C. the cross was processed from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial to the National Mall in front of the Smithsonian Institution Building, ending at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine for veneration.
When St. John Paul II entrusted the Cross of the Jubilee Year of Redemption in 1984 to the young people of the world, he encouraged them to “carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ we can find salvation and redemption.”
A year later, the pontiff, in front of 300,000 young people, announced the institution of World Youth Day on Dec. 20, 1985, in response to the United Nation’s International Year of the Youth.
The first international World Youth Day took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Since then, the cross has travelled around the globe, from Spain to Poland to the Philippines to Australia, with millions of young people in total enthusiastically gathering together in communal praise at each stop.
When the cross finally came to the U.S. in 1993, St. John Paul II told the 700,000 people gathered in Denver “the liberating message of the Gospel of Life has been put into your hands,” adding that the “mission of proclaiming it to the ends of the earth is now passing to your generation.”
Almost a decade later, the cross graced the United States in a two-day stop in New York City following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
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