Major updates to a popular Catholic prayer application for smart phones have been completed just in time for World Youth Day, at the Vatican's request.
"Basically, it's a completely new initiative with a new platform," Andres Ruzo, developer of the "Ignio" prayer app, told CNA July 16.

Ignio, an app that serves as a kind of Catholic prayer network, has undergone some major changes since the Vatican requested that it be ready to go before World Youth Day, being held in Rio de Janeiro July 23 – 28.

Updates to the app include availability in Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, availability on Android devices as well as iPhones, and daily summaries of Pope Francis' homilies or audiences.

"We're trying to bring light to the secular world that is bombarded by darkness on the social platform," Ruzo explained.

Although Ignio's development group, WeDoBelieve, was already planning a major update to the original version, a recent meeting with Vatican officials prompted the quick change.

Both Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and Archbishop Octavio Ruiz Arenas, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, requested that the updates be ready in time for next week's event in Brazil.

"(Archbishop Ruiz) said he'd love to put it in a packet for World Youth Day," Ruzo said. "Well, in 60 days we put this all together, so we're ready to go!"

The original version already has 17,000 downloads and a four-star rating from users, but Ruzo hopes that the 2.0 version will gain even more popularity because of its quality and larger platform.

"The narrow path," he said, "is something that has to be driven by change."

Taking a cue from social media, Ignio designers intended to create a different "spiritual community" that allows real time connection through prayer signified by a candle that either grows or diminishes depending on the user's activity.

To light the candle and activate the app, the user must physically bump phones with someone else who has the program.

After activation, users join small prayer circles no larger than 12 people. They can "check in" each time they participate in religious activities, notifying those in their circle about their actions. Each action grows the digital candle's flame by a preset amount.

Users can also share prayer intentions on a prayer wall and read a private report about their past actions.

The Android version will be available Aug. 1, but new languages and summaries of Pope Francis' addresses and homilies have been available since July 18.

The app's website is