WYD Cross draws thousands in Melbourne

Melbourne, Australia, Apr 25, 2008 / 05:03 pm (CNA) .- Anticipation of World Youth Day is continuing to build as is evidenced by a crowd of 2,500 that witnessed the handing over of the WYD Cross and Icon at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne on April 24.

The exchange involved the Diocese of Sale giving the 12 foot wooden Cross and the Icon of the Blessed Mother and Jesus to representatives of the Archdiocse of Melbourne, where it will spend two weeks visiting various Catholic sites.

According to The Age, Archbishop Denis Hart told the gathering of youth that he hoped the items would be instigators of peace and reconciliation between nations.

The Cross and Icon have been traveling around Australia in anticipation of World Youth Day, which will be held this July in Sydney. The youth event is expected to draw 125,000 international pilgrims and 60,000 Australians, according to organizers.

The late Pope John Paul II blessed the Cross in 1984 and since then it has been circulating around the world visiting troubled regions and countries that are hosting the next World Youth Day. Youth frequently tell stories of how participating in carrying the WYD Cross deepens their faith and reconnects them with the Church.