.- It was a sight to remember. Nearly 700,000 pilgrims joined Pope Benedict XVI Saturday in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at the evening vigil of World Youth Day 2005.
The young pilgrims stood in silence and knelt on the damp ground of Marienfeld for nearly 20 minutes to worship Jesus Christ, in Eucharist, which was placed in a monstrance on the main altar. The Pope was on a kneeler in front of the monstrance.
For Vincent Fernandez, a German pilgrim of Indian heritage, adoration was the most significant part of the evening. The Blessed Sacrament was brought to a tent, in the center of Marienfeld, which would remain open all night long.
“The most impressive thing about the vigil was the Pope kneeling before Jesus Christ,” said Fernandez, 25. “This is the first time I see the Pope and it was very special to see him kneel before the Blessed Sacrament.”
Eucharistic adoration is a perfect expression of faith and worship for this WYD since the theme is “We have come to adore him.” In deed, the Church is currently celebrating the Year of the Eucharist. Benedict has already said that John Paul had wanted WYD to be a highpoint of the Year of the Eucharist.
Genny Rojas of Costa Rica appreciated Benedict’s message that God is everlasting love and that he is calling his people to journey in a pilgrimage with Mary and the three Magi.
Fernandez was an admirer of Pope John Paul II and really appreciated the tribute to the late Pope at the beginning of the service. Pope Benedict XVI blessed a huge church bell that was dedicated to John Paul.
“I thought the tribute to John Paul was very good. “It was the very first thing he did,” said Fernandez. “This was necessary because this World Youth Day was the bridge from Pope John Paul II to Benedict XVI.”
The Pope had arrived to Marienfeld, as scheduled, at 7 p.m., and he made his way through the crowds.
The two-hour prayer service began at 8 p.m. Music was provided by World Youth Day Choir B, an Indian dance choir and a dance and music group from Ghana.
Pilgrims were given candles and, during the Service of Light, all of the candles were lit from the Light of Bethlehem. The Light of Bethlehem comes from the holy city. It was brought to about 25 churches.
To read full text of Pope Benedict’s vigil speech: