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World Youth Day 2023

“Mary arose and went with haste”


What is World Youth Day?

World Youth Day (WYD) is a huge gathering that takes place every two to three years for youth and young adults ages 16 to 35 to come together and share in their Catholic faith. Hundreds of thousands make the pilgrimage to pray and worship in this international celebration. This year WYD will be held in Lisbon, Portugal, from Aug. 1-6.

What is the theme?

The theme for this year’s gathering is based on Luke 1:39: “Mary arose and went with haste.” In choosing this theme, Pope Francis said:

“The theme of the Panama World Youth Day [in 2019] was, ‘I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.’ (Lk 1:38) After that event, we resumed our journey towards a new destination – Lisbon 2023 – with hearts afire with God’s urgent summons to arise. … After the Annunciation, Mary could have focused on herself and her own worries and fears about her new condition. Instead, she entrusted herself completely to God.”

Pope Francis continued: “The haste of the young woman of Nazareth is the haste of those who have received extraordinary gifts from the Lord and feel compelled to share them, to let the immense grace that they have experienced be poured out upon others. It is the haste of those capable of putting other people’s needs above their own. Mary is an example of a young person who wastes no time on seeking attention or the approval of others.”

In early May, Pope Francis’ message to World Youth Day participants urged them to prepare for the celebration by talking to their elders: “Talk a little with your grandparents. They’ll give you wisdom.”

A brief history

World Youth Day was established by Pope John Paul II in 1985. The gatherings typically last about one week. This year, the location in Lisbon is less than 100 miles from the city of Fatima, home to the Marian shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Fatima.

Past years and themes


Pope John Paul II

1986– Rome, Italy: Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you. – 1Pt 3:15

1987– Buenos Aires, Argentina: We ourselves have known and put our faith in God’s love towards ourselves.– 1Jn 4:16

1989– Santiago de Compostela, Spain: I am the way, the truth, and the life – Jn 14:6

1991– Czestochowa, Poland: You have received a spirit of sonship. – Rom 8:15

1993– Denver, CO USA: I came that they might have life, and have it to the full.– Jn 10:10

1995– Manila, Philippines: As the Father sent me, so am I sending you.– Jn 20:21

1997– Paris, France: Teacher, where are you staying? Come and see. – Jn 1:38-39

2000– Rome, Italy: Jubilee – The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.– Jn 1:14

2002-Toronto, Canada: You are the salt of the earth; You are the light of the world. – Mt 5:13-14

2005– Cologne, Germany: We have come to worship him. – Mt 2:2


Pope Benedict XVI

2008– Sydney, Australia: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses -Acts 1, 8

2011– Madrid, Spain: Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith -Col 2:7

2013– Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Go and Make Disciples of All Nations -Mt 28:19


Pope Francis

2016– Kraków, Poland: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. -Mt 5:7

2019– Panama City, Panamá: I am the servant of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. -Lk 1:38

2023– Lisbon, Portugal: Mary arose and went with haste. -Lk 1:39