WYD Symbols

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World Youth Day has two symbols that accompany and represent it: the Pilgrim Cross and the icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani.

In the months before each WYD, the symbols go on a pilgrimage to be heralds of the Gospel and to accompany young people, in a special way, in the realities in which they live.

On November 22, 2020, at the Mass of the Solemnity of Christ the King, which was presided over by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Basilica, in Rome, a delegation of young people from Portugal received from the young people of Panama – the city that hosted the last WYD – , the symbols of World Youth Day.

The symbols of WYD, the Pilgrim Cross and the icon of Our Lady, are on pilgrimage through Portuguese dioceses, after having passed through some African countries with Portuguese as an official language.

Pilgrim Cross

At 3.8 meters high, the Pilgrim Cross, built for the Holy Year in 1983, was entrusted by John Paul II to young people on Palm Sunday of the following year, so that it could be carried around the world. Since then, the Pilgrim Cross, made of wood, began a pilgrimage that has taken it to five continents and to almost 90 countries. It has been seen as a true sign of faith.

It was transported on foot, by boat and even by unusual means such as sleds, cranes or tractors. He passed through the jungle, visited churches, juvenile detention centers, prisons, schools, universities, hospitals, monuments and shopping centers. Along the way, he faced many obstacles: from air strikes to transportation difficulties, such as the impossibility of traveling because he couldn’t fit in any of the available planes.

This Cross has established itself as a sign of hope in particularly sensitive places. In 1985, he was in Prague, in the current Czech Republic, at a time when Europe was divided by the Iron Curtain, and there he was a sign of communion with the Pope.

Shortly after September 11, 2001, he traveled to Ground Zero, in New York, where the terrorist attacks that killed nearly three thousand people took place. He also passed through Rwanda in 2006, after the country was ravaged by civil war.

Icon of Our Lady

Salus Populi Romani

Since 2000, the Pilgrim Cross has been accompanied by the Icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani, which depicts the Virgin Mary with the Child in her arms. This icon was also introduced by Pope John Paul II as a symbol of Mary’s presence among young people. With 1.20 meters high and 80 centimeters wide, the icon of Our Lady Salus Populi Romani is associated with one of the most popular Marian devotions in Italy. There is an ancient tradition of taking it in procession through the streets of Rome, to ward off dangers and misfortunes or to put an end to pestilence. The original icon is found in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, in Rome, and is visited by Pope Francis who prays there and leaves a bouquet of flowers, before and after each apostolic journey.

Pilgrimage Itinerary

of the WYD Symbols
November 2021
Diocese of Algarve
December 2021
Diocese of Beja
January 2022
Diocese of Évora
February 2022
Diocese of Portalegre-Castelo Branco
March 2022
Diocese of Guarda
April 2022
Diocese of Viseu
May 2022
Diocese of Funchal
June 2022
Diocese of Angra
July 2022
Diocese of Lamego
August 2022
Diocese of Bragança-Miranda
September 2022
Diocese of Vila Real
October 2022
Diocese of Porto
November 2022
Diocese of Setúbal
December 2022
Diocese of Forças Armadas e Segurança
January 2023
Diocese of Viana do Castelo
February 2023
Diocese of Braga
March 2023
Diocese of Aveiro
April 2023
Diocese of Coimbra
May 2023
Diocese of Leiria-Fátima
June 2023
Diocese of Santarém
July 2023
Diocese of Lisboa