As World Youth Day 2013 begins, young people from across the globe continue to pour into Rio de Janeiro and the surrounding areas. Here are a few of the main Brazilian sites that will be in the news throughout the coming week:
One of the world’s most famous beaches will host several major events throughout World Youth Day. The Opening Mass, Papal Welcoming Ceremony and Way of the Cross will all take place on Copacabana Beach, combining an international party icon with Catholic youth from around the world.
Translated as “Field of Faith,” this will be the site of the overnight vigil on Saturday. Located in Guaratiba, in the western part of Rio de Janeiro, pilgrims will walk several kilometers to reach the area. Over the past several months, hundreds of people have worked to build a stage and ensure that there are enough restrooms, water fountains, food stations, medical clinics, video screens and worship tents for several million pilgrims to spend the night.
In 1717, three fishermen discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary entangled in their nets. Although they had been struggling for hours to catch fish, they prayed to the Blessed Virgin and soon they had caught an abundance of fish. The fishermen began to venerate the statue, and devotion to Our Lady of Aparecida grew, as more miracles were attributed to her. Today, Our Lady is the patroness of Brazil, and the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida receives millions of pilgrims each year. Pope Francis will visit the site on Wednesday, and many pilgrims will make room in their schedules for a trip there as well.
Towering over the city of Rio, Corcovado Mountain rises to a height of 2,300 feet and is known around the world for the Christ the Redeemer statue that sits atop it. Completed in 1931, the statue of concrete and soapstone depicts Jesus with arms wide open. At nearly 100 feet tall, it is one of the largest statues of Jesus in the world. The site is not part of the official World Youth Day program, but many participants will make the trip – just a few miles from the beach – to see the famous statue.