.- Some 340,000 young people from more than 170 countries have signed up to participate in World Youth Day Madrid.
The main objective of the event, World Youth Day 2011's executive director said, is “so young people experience Madrid as a welcoming city and that their days here be unforgettable.”
Events are scheduled for Aug. 16 – 21 and include a vigil and Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.
The head of this year's World Youth Day, Yago de la Cierva, said the planning phase ended in January 2011. Since then, organizers have been working with the Vatican and Madrid city officials on implementing the plans. A large contingent of full and part-time volunteers were marshaled to manage logistics.
The culture and faith of Spain will be front and center the director added, emphasizing that “everything ought to be rooted in the 20 centuries of Catholic tradition in this country.”
World Youth Day will begin on Aug. 16 with an opening Mass followed by various events until Aug. 18, when Pope Benedict XVI will be welcomed at Cibeles Square.
The next day the Way of the Cross will be prayed and the weekend will be spent at the Cuatro Vientos airfield. A vigil will take place there on Saturday night and the closing Mass will be celebrated on Sunday morning.
Pope Benedict XVI will also meet with university professors, women religious, seminarians, volunteers, those with disabilities and the sick.
World Youth Day cultural activities will fill the streets of the Spanish capital, with more than 300 different stops available for young people.
The traditional catechetical sessions will take place Aug. 17 and 18 at more than 200 parishes throughout Madrid, led by bishops from around the world.