The title 2013 World Youth Day may be something of a misnomer given that today the event spreads itself across an entire week, but it's global reach is undeniable, with hundreds of thousands of young Catholics expected to make their way to Rio for an audience with Argentina's Pope Francis, the first Pope to have been born outside of Europe in over 1,000 years.
The event's roots are, unsurprisingly, to be found in the Vatican, where in 1986 the then Pope John Paul II delivered a cross to 300,000 assembled youth, an icon that has since travelled the world as 'a symbol of love for humanity'. It will again be the focus on 26 July during a huge event for over two million people on Copacabana Beach at which the Pope will address the crowd from a stage erected infront of Avenida Princesa Isabel. Alto da Boa Vista, Guaratiba and the Metropolitan Cathedral will also host vast Masses and confessionals, with RioCentro becoming the cultural epicentre, turning into the Cidade da Fé (City of Faith) from 20-28 July. Music, debates, fairs and Masses will occupy pavilions 2-4 of the huge exhibition space across the nine days, turning this corner of Zona Oeste into a buzzing hub of international Catholicism. See the official City of Faith website for full details (cidadedafe.com).
The official papal programme is as follows:
- 22 July - The Pope meets with President Dilma at Guanabara Palace
- 23 July - Opening Mass on Copacabana Beach (1 million expected)
- 24 July - Papal visit to a Tijuca hospital
- 25 July - The Pope receives the key to the city at Palácio da Cidade, then greets the masses on Copacabana Beach (1 million expected)
- 26 July - The Pope hosts a confessional in Alto da Boa Vista before the ceremony of the cross on Copacabana Beach (2 million people expected)
- 27 July - The Pope holds Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral before an overnight vigil in Guaratiba (2.5 million expected)
- 28 July - The Pope holds Mass in Guaratiba before a leaving ceremony at Galeão Airport