VATICAN CITY, AUGUST 17 (ZENIT.org).- Rome witnessed a scene today that would have been
unthinkable just 20 years ago: thousands upon thousands of youth began crossing the Holy Door of the
Vatican Basilica as early as 7:30 a.m. It was a veritable river of humanity, which would continue to
flow until 11 p.m.
Some 200,000 youths arrived in the Vatican today. As not all could pass through St. Peter's Holy
Door, some went through other doors but, by this gesture, all expressed their will to convert and their
unconditional love for Christ.
Thanks to powerful loudspeakers, the words of the Beatitudes resonated in the atmosphere. Young
men and women, carrying flags and wearing caps or scarves moved in procession, as many as 20,000
per hour, from Cavour Square (about a half mile away), meditating on Jesus' words: "Blessed are the
pure of heart, they will see God," "Blessed are the merciful, they will obtain mercy." The phrases are
written on large banners on the columns of the Via della Conciliazione, which runs into St. Peter's
Square. The official World Youth Day prayer books provide reflections for each of these stations.
The procession of youth of "all languages, tribes, and nations" then passed through the Holy Door, and
went to pray at St. Peter's tomb. It was a real spectacle of hope, which posed serious questions,
especially to the older ones. The youth who did not come to St. Peter's this morning went to the Circus
Maximus to receive God's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or to the catecheses taught
in 32 different languages, which ends every morning with a very lively Mass for the youth.
In the context of the three days of meditation and prayer in preparation for the meeting with the Pope
in Tor Vergata, among the 160 catechises today ZENIT followed the teaching of Cardinal Dionigi
Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Genoa, in St. John Lateran, the Pope's Cathedral.
The topic the Genoa Cardinal addressed to a full audience in the historic Cathedral was: "Christ gave
himself up for us." The Cardinal referred to Jesus' unique love for each person, exactly as revealed in
the Gospel, and explained that Christians are called to live an intrepid life, characterized by courage to
accept this love in their own concrete existence. At times they must even suffer unjustly because of
evil, following in the footprints of the crucified Christ, "a scandal for the Jews, and folly for the
Gentiles," but a sign of victory, as "the folly of God is wiser than the wisdom of men."
"There is nothing more valuable or necessary for the world than the cross of Christ, because the
salvation of each and all emanates from His act of love. Dear youth, if we want to be saved we now
know where to go: we must go, better yet, we must be at the foot of the cross of Christ!" concluded