.- Following yesterday’s Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II made a surprise appearance at the window of his study to wild cheers from those gathered below.
An estimated 50,000 faithful--many of them young people present for a pre-World Youth Day celebration--were gathered in the square.
The Pope blessed the crowd with an olive branch before Archbishop Leonardo Sandri read the papal reflections that preceded the Angelus prayer.
"Twenty years ago," the Holy Father’s message said, "right here in St. Peter's Square, World Youth Days began. Thus, today I am addressing young people in a special way. You, dear ones, gathered here in the square, and the youth throughout the world.”
"My dear young people!” he continued, “This coming August World Youth Day will take place in Cologne, in the heart of Germany and of Europe. In the stupendous cathedral of that city the relics of the Three Magi are venerated and they have become in a certain sense your guides towards that appointment.”
They came from the East to pay homage to Jesus and they said: 'We have come to adore Him'. These words, so rich in meaning, constitute the theme of your spiritual and catechetical itinerary towards World Youth Day.”
Today, you adore the Cross of Christ that you carry throughout the world, because you believed in God's Love, fully revealed in the crucified Christ."
The Pope called on the young people to be tireless "witnesses to the glorious Cross of Christ."
He concluded his reflections, writing, "I become more and more aware how providential and prophetic it is that this day, Palm Sunday and the Passion of the Lord, has become your day. This feast contains a special grace, that of joy united to the Cross which epitomizes the Christian mystery."