TORONTO, JULY 21, 2002 ( The small wooden crosses that World Youth Day participants will wear during the closing papal Mass are the product of Colombian workshops.

The Holy Father will personally bless and present 12 crosses to young people on the stage at Downsview Lands. Among the latter will be three youths from workshops in Medellin and Bogota.

The hand-carved 5-centimeter crosses were made in Blanquizel, one of the poorest barrios of Medellin, and in Bogota's "Barrio Egipto."

Basilian priests established workshops in these barrios with a grant from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace. Production of the 450,000 crosses offered organizers a chance to involve young people of poor nations in World Youth Day.

The 450,000 crosses were made by young people in their teens and 20s, from 40 families. The income they earned will go toward school tuition, and allow them to provide $10 to $30 a week to their families.