Portugal is the second Portuguese-speaking country to host the World Youth Day

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Portugal is the second Portuguese-speaking country to host World Youth Day (WYD), after Brazil hosted the event in 2013, in what was Pope Francis’ first apostolic trip abroad.

Elected Pope on March 13, 2013, succeeding Benedict XVI (1927-2022), Francis, a native of Argentina, made his first trip abroad, precisely to a WYD, four months later.

In Rio de Janeiro, at the welcoming ceremony, and in Portuguese, the Pope said: “I have no gold or silver, but I bring with me something more valuable, Jesus Christ. I come in his name to fan the flame of fraternal love that burns in every heart, and I wish that my greeting reaches everyone.”

The head of state of the Vatican said it was the wish of Providence that the first trip abroad was to Latin America, from where he traveled to Rome for the conclave that elected him pope.

During WYD, Francis announced that he would return to Brazil in 2017, on the occasion of the tricentennial of the discovery of the image of Our Lady of Conception in Aparecida, which did not happen.

That year, he made a 24-hour trip to the Shrine of Fatima for the centennial of the events in the Cova da Iria and the canonization of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta Marto.

The Pope is expected in Fatima again this year, after having confirmed, on April 29, 2021, in a private audience at the Vatican, to the then Bishop of the Diocese of Leiria-Fatima, Cardinal Antonio Marto, the intention of making a pilgrimage to the Shrine on the occasion of WYD.

When the choice of the Portuguese capital, Lisbon, was announced on January 27, 2019, at WYD in Panama City, the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, considered that “it is the recognition of the weight of Lusophony, of the Portuguese-speaking world,” and, “at the same time, the weight of Portugal, the weight of Fatima, the weight of the Portuguese Catholic people.”

“But I do not hide that the Lusophony and speaking Portuguese and being present on all continents, throughout the world, weighed in the struggle that was very difficult with other candidates” for the organization of WYD, he said at the time.

The Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, Manuel Clemente, declared on the occasion that WYD in Lisbon “will be for the entire Portuguese-speaking world.

“It will be in Portugal, concretely in Lisbon, and it will be for the whole Portuguese-speaking world, with a special insistence that our Portuguese-speaking brothers and sisters from Africa and other parts of the world come, and also, of course, our dear Brazilian brothers and sisters who are always so strongly present so that World Youth Day may also be said in Portuguese,” Manuel Clemente added.

With the organization of WYD, the Portuguese capital, between August 1 and 6, is preparing to receive probably the event with the largest number of people – about 1.5 million people are expected – that it has ever had in its history.

From hosting the European Capital of Culture in 1994, to the world exhibition in 1998 (Expo’98) or more recently the technology and entrepreneurship summit Web Summit, Lisbon has been the stage of several initiatives that have tested its organizational capacity.

In May 1982, Lisbon received Pope John Paul II (1920-2005), who presided over a mass at Parque Eduardo VII.

Nine years later, in May 1991, John Paul II returned to Portugal and included, again, the Portuguese capital in the trip, celebrating a mass at the Restelo stadium.

In May 2010, on his only visit to Portugal, Benedict XVI said mass in Praça do Comércio, in Lisbon, which brought together about 500,000 people, and in the same year, in November, the capital hosted the NATO Summit, which was attended by several heads of state and government.

Among other major events that Lisbon hosted, the highlight in 2004 was the European Football Championship. The capital was one of the cities of the championship, hosting the final. In 2018, Lisbon hosted the Eurovision Song Contest.

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