Pope Francis became the first person to register for the 2019 World Youth Day (WYD) in Panama with the words: “That’s it, I’ve registered as a pilgrim on the journey to WYD Panama.”
He made the announcement in Rome, on Sunday, February 11, before hundreds of faithful who gathered in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square to attend the Angelus prayer. The Panama event will be from January 22 to 27, 2019.
The pontiff was accompanied by two young people representing the pilgrims and volunteers who will arrive in Panama.
“I invite all the young people of the world to join with faith and enthusiasm this event of grace and fraternity, whether traveling to Panama or participating in their local communities, ” he said.
The event is expected to draw some 400,000 to Panama, which will delight tourism authorities but has raised concerns with some over how a city of around 880,000 people with traffic-clogged streets and an overloaded transportation system, will cope with a five-day influx of almost half its population, Metro Line 2 will be only partially opened and the 2019 election campaign will be at full pitch.
WYD is a religious and cultural event that gathers young people from all over the world every three years.
It is a festive gathering in which hundreds of thousands of young Catholics congregate in the city chosen by the pontiff to host the WYD that will be filled with pilgrims and volunteers.
Past roll calls
To date, there have been 13 World Youth Days. in 1987 in Buenos Aires (Argentina), 1989 Santiago de Compostela (Spain),1991 Czestochowa (Poland), 1993 Denver (United States), 1995 Manila (Philippines), 1997 Paris (France), 2000 Rome (Italy), 2002 Toronto (Canada), 2005 Cologne (Germany), 2008 Sydney (Australia), 2011 Madrid (Spain), 2013 Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), 2016 Krakow (Poland).
Young people who participate in WYDs are usually aged between 15 andm30. Most of them tend to be university students.
The record WYD attendance was in Manila with 5 million young people, according to estimates by local authorities.
The most multitudinous European WYD was in Rome in the year 2000, with 2,100,000 young people.