solemn Palm Sunday liturgy in St. Peter’s Square, presided at by Pope
Benedict XVI, the cross changed hands from a group of German youth to
pilgrims from Australia. Last year’s World Youth Day was celebrated in
weekly Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict reminded a crowd of thousands of
the spiritual and historical significance of the globe-trotting cross.
"This”, he said,
“is the cross that the beloved John Paul II entrusted to young people
in 1984 that they might carry it around the world as a sign of Christ's
love for humanity," together with another sign of WYD, an icon of the
that "This handing over of the cross has become a tradition, ... a
highly symbolic tradition to be practiced with great faith, and the
commitment to follow a journey of conversion in the footsteps of Jesus.”
"This faith is
taught us by Mary Most Holy,” he went on, “who was the first 'to
believe' and carried her own cross together with the Son, later tasting
with Him the joy of the resurrection.”
He told the
crowd that “For this reason the young people's cross is accompanied by
an icon of the Virgin, representing the image of Mary 'Salus Populi
Romani' which is venerated in the Roman Basilica of St. Mary Major, the
oldest basilica dedicated to Mary in the West."
On its way to
Sydney, the cross and the Marian image will travel through various
African countries "in order to express the closeness of Christ and His
Mother to the people of that continent, tried by so much suffering."
It will arrive
in Oceania in February 2007, and from there, travel through various
Australian diocese before reaching Sydney in July of 2008.
pilgrim World Youth Day cross--first commissioned in 1984 by John Paul
II--began its journey from Rome to Sydney Australia yesterday, where it
will arrive this summer just in time for the 22nd World Youth Day