Cardinal-elect Américo Aguiar

By Edoardo Giribaldi

Aug 8 2023

Following Friday evening’s celebration of the Way of the Cross in Lisbon’s Edward VII Park, pilgrims from all over the world express their joy and emotions for the event, “something that a lot of young people out there need to hear and want to hear.”

On Friday evening, Pope Francis celebrated the World Youth Day Way of the Cross with 800,000 young pilgrims in Lisbon’s Edward VII Park.

The event alternated moments of intense reflection, such as when the Holy Father invited the crowd to share their sorrows with Jesus in the silence of their hearts, and moments of excitement with traditional and contemporary music.

‘It was beautiful’

Speaking with Vatican News’ correspondent Stefanie Stahlhofen, several young, and less-than-young, pilgrims shared their thoughts and impressions on the event.

A 21-year-old pilgrim from Pamplona, Spain, found the celebration quite familiar and “very emotional,” as he prays the Via Crucis in his hometown every year on Good Friday.

Fr. Luca, from the diocese of Como, Italy, found his thoughts and frailties reflected in the various Stations, whose meditations were based on young people’s considerations of the weaknesses affecting today’s society. “It was beautiful to listen to the prayer requests and the needs inside young people’s hearts,” Fr. Luca affirmed.

‘I felt blessed’

Claudine, from the Philippines, defined the experience as “life-changing.” She highlighted the “joy” she felt while seeing the Pope in person for the first time, and praised both the artistic representation of each Station and, on a more practical aspect, the live radio translation, which allowed her to better follow the event.

Andrey, an 18-year-old pilgrim from Slovakia, said he felt “blessed” and that the innovative perspective imprinted on the Via Crucis was something that “a lot of young people out there need to hear and want to hear.”

‘Feel and fulfill the dreams of our faith’

Another pilgrim, Felipe Limos from Brazil, went beyond the celebration, projecting his thoughts on the desired WYD outcomes.

“I hope we can keep getting back to the Church as we did today; I hope that during and after World Youth Day, we can deeply feel and fulfill the dreams of our faith,” he affirmed, as his ultimate desire would be to see a young and united Church in which “we all reach for the same goal.”

The young people’s enthusiasm received the praise and gratitude of Cardinal-elect Américo Aguiar, who thanked them for their “testimony of Christ alive in your heart.”

“This will definitely change the world,” Cardinal-elect Aguiar concluded, “young people with Christ in their hearts. Thank you for your presence.” – Vatican News