History of World Youth Day

On August 2023 we will be celebrating WYD in Lisbon, Portugal, hence, before you travel on this important pilgrimage, we would like to share with you some of the most important things you need to know about the history of World Youth Day.


  • World Youth Day is a worldwide event of young Catholics with the Pope, which takes place in a different country every three years.
  • World Youth Day was established by Pope John Paul II in 1986, motivated by the church’s Youth Jubilee celebrated in 1984.
  • Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis continued honoring this special event, and the next WYD will be celebrated in Lisbon between 1st and 6th August 2023.
  • The first World Youth Day took place in Rome, on Palm Sunday, and its intention was to encourage young Catholics to preserve the Catholic church’s traditions.
  • The Second WYD was celebrated in Buenos Aires, Argentina, being the first International World Youth Day ceremony. Since then, 15 WYD events have been held on Palm Sunday.
  • WYD is also a pilgrimage, where different sacred programmes take place such as the mass recreation of the “Way of the Cross”, the journey of “the Cross and the Icon”, the vigil, and the event’s closing mass, led by the Pope.
  • The Pilgrim Cross and the Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary are very important symbols of WYD, both of them were given to young people by Pope John Paul II.
  • The World Youth Day Cross, also named “Pilgrim Cross”, has been carried from different countries, and parishes since 1984. The Pilgrim Cross represents an emblem of faith and “a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity”
  • The Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary is carried as well on this spiritual journey along with the Pilgrim Cross. The Icon is a symbol of mother Mary accompanying young people. Pilgrims will be able to find the original Icon in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maior, in Rome.

If you wish to learn more about the history of World Youth Day, visit the following pages:


At Joe Walsh Tours we will be announcing travel packages very soon for WYD. Sign up to our Newsletter if you wish to receive updates for 2023 pilgrimages.

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