Spain Prepares to Welcome the World’s Youth

February 24, 2011 11:29 am
More than 300,000 participants from around the world will stay with youth and families throughout Spain before World Youth Day (August 11-15, 2011). This program, called “Days in the Dioceses”, was started at WYD in Paris in 1997 and aims to serve as preparation for WYD Among other preparations for WYD, today two competitions have been launched to reward journalistic works related to WYD and videos in which young people across the world can participate
Madrid, February 22, 2011 – From August 11-15, 2011, 63 Spanish dioceses are offering young people coming to WYD from outside of Spain the opportunity to experience a time of fellowship with other youth, in preparation for World Youth Day. "It’s a great opportunity to prepare for World Youth Day, while multiplying the impact of WYD all over Spain," says Javier Igea, Director of the program. A website ( has recently been launched to offer all the information needed on every site participating in the program.
An estimated 300,000 young people will participate in the program "Days in the Diocese”, which will be held in dioceses across all of Spain. There are currently over 150,000 participants from 137 countries (Taiwan, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, South Africa …) registered. 12 of the 63 participating dioceses have already reached their space limit.
The plans for these days will vary from place to place, and will include cultural activities, historical tours, time for celebration, and also time for prayer and liturgy at the shrines, which form a part of the local religious identity. Spain also has a rich Catholic history and is known as the “Land of Mary”, a title awarded it by Pope John Paul II. This land has been the birthplace of many saints and a vast number of the world’s nations have been evangelized by Spanish missionaries.
For example, the Basilica of Sagrada Familia in Barcelona will host one of these events which will be attended by the youth who travel to Catalonia, in addition to the local youth of the region. Pamplona will host youth from Sicily, with whom they are already holding prayer meetings every Friday at the same time to prepare for the meeting.
Javier Igea stressed that these contacts prior to World Youth Day "are sowing bonds of peace in the global village."
The acceptance and cooperation of local authorities has been very positive. "In Valladolid, the local mayors were the ones who asked the organization to send young people from around the world to their towns," said Igea. In many parts of Spain, a great effort is being made to offer participants accommodations and meals free of charge. Young people from countries with greater economic difficulties have been guaranteed their participation in this program free of charge. This is the case in Ciudad Real, which
will host 260 Haitians, part of the 2,000 foreign students participating in the program in this city of Spain’s La Mancha region.
DID started at WYD in Paris (1997). The Church in France promoted these encounters as a way of facilitating youth ministry in French dioceses, to get the whole country to welcome pilgrims from other countries, and to encourage French youth to participate in WYD. The experience was such a success that it also formed a part of the subsequent WYD’s in Italy, Canada, Germany, and Australia. You can find more information at:
“Watchmen of the Morning” Competition
There is also a writing contest called “Watchmen of the Morning”, from the term coined by John Paul II for young people in his last visit to Spain in 2003.
The “Cronica Blanca” Foundation (, in collaboration with World Youth Day – Madrid, will reward journalistic work published by May 1 that reflects what WYD in Madrid is and what it means. Compositions may be presented in four categories: written press, radio, audiovisual, and Internet.
The awards will be announced and released on August 16, the day WYD in Madrid begins.
WYD Stations of the Cross
The city of Segovia will participate in the WYD Stations of the Cross. Segovia’s Cathedral will contribute a carving done by Gregorio Fernandez, a 16th century Spanish sculptor. This sculpture, depicting an image of Christ’s body lying down, will be the 14th Station of the Cross. There are now 12 Spanish cities (including Segovia) participating in this WYD ceremony.
The image of the “Lying Christ”, by Gregorio Fernández, will participate in the Way of the Cross in place of the one originally scheduled to participate from the Convent of San Plácido in Madrid. With this image of Segovia, there are now 12 Spanish cities represented in the Way of the Cross of World Youth Day.
“Madrid in Video”
A new online contest for WYD has also been introduced. “Madrid in Video” aims to collect proposals from young people around the world who are being asked to make short videos to put up on the screens while participants await the initiation of the main events of WYD.
Videos submitted to the contest shall be subject to popular vote at There you will find all the information you need about this contest.