More than a million young people from around the world eagerly awaited Pope Benedict's arrival at the Cuatro Vientos aerodrome for the World Youth Day 2011 vigil on August 20.
“We look forward to having time to pray together and meditate on our lives,” Salesian Society member Paola Felleti told CNA on August 20. She described the time in Madrid as an “intense week, with lots of great moments.”
Felletti's group of 8,000 Salesian Society pilgrims arrived at Cuatro Vientos around 2 p.m. She laughed as she recalled how the group spent the earlier hours of the day, mostly “trying to survive the hot weather (by) drinking water and just waiting for the sunset.”
She and a small group of other pilgrims entertained themselves by playing cards, as they sat on their mats and blankets.
Another Salesian Society member, 30-year old Spaniard Nacho Roba, told CNA his group was “in disbelief with the amount of people that are here.”
He looked out over the vast sea of people and flags, declaring: “It's fantastic!”
“We are a little apprehensive about whether we will see the Pope from our spot or not, but we will get as close as possible,” the pilgrim from Spain said.
“I think the most exciting part tonight will be the development of the vigil – the singing, cheering, and tomorrow’s Eucharistic procession. It will be especially exciting for those who have never been to World Youth Day before, or even left their country,” Roba observed.
One of those first-time attendees is Mattia Piampiano, a 16-year old from Italy. He told CNA that he was excited for the vigil, and had met people from many countries during the week.
“Tonight will be wonderful - the best night of World Youth Day 2011!” he said with a big smile, surrounded by the group of fellow Salesian pilgrims from around the world as they cheered and sang with the rest of Cuatro Vientos.