On Saturday, with a red warning for heat in Lisbon, we made the decision to leave a bit later in the day for the final Vigil. We congregated outside the hotel at midday and Bishop Peter gave us a blessing as we left. We got the metro part of the way, but as many of the stations were closed, we soon had to go back out into the sun.
We had prepared ourselves after a short break to walk the rest of the way when we passed an open metro station. On getting into the metro station we found it busy but managed to find ourselves at the front pretty quick. It was extremely squished with large numbers of people going in the same direction. To keep our spirits high we sang praise and worship songs on our long journey underground.
When we got off the metro we were close to the vigil site at the Field of Grace. we had to stop and pick up our meal packs which included enough food for Saturday and Sunday. We had bagels, tinned tuna, chickpea pate, jam, rice cakes, cereal bars, hot dogs and water in them. By the time we got to our section (A29) it was 6pm.
We got ourselves settled in our very busy section and then we had our own Mass. After Mass we waited for Pope Francis to arrive, which he did in his popemobile, driving through the crowds.
The Pope gave a short talk where he likened prayer to exercise, saying that sometimes we don’t want to walk or exercise but we won’t be successful unless we train. He also talked about how when we fall what’s important is that we get up again. Pope Francis finished with telling us that “there is only one thing that is free, the love of Jesus”. After the speech, drones were used to show the World Youth Day 2023 theme ‘rise up’ in different languages.
This was followed by a time of adoration. It was amazing to see so many people all in adoration together, which was ended with Benediction. After this there was music and videos being played on the big screens while we all chatted and enjoyed the general atmosphere!
After a late night when many were celebrating into the early hours as we tried to sleep in the Field of Grace, in the morning we were woken up to some techno and rave music from Padre Guilherme, who we also had the pleasure of seeing in the days of the diocese!
When Pope Francis arrived for Mass this morning he travelled round the site including going over the bridge that was built just for World Youth Day! We were extremely lucky in our section as the Pope passed us four times in the space of about 30 minutes. Everyone was really excited to see him and many of the group had good views of him as he passed.
Attending the Mass were an estimated 1.5 million pilgrims, including 700 bishops and 10,000 priests.
In his homily, the Pope gave advice on what to do once we are back home after World Youth Day, after we have come down from the mountain. He gave us three verbs to help us; to shine, to listen and to be unafraid. He said we should shine with the light of Christ, listen to him so that we too may become the light of the world and to be unafraid for the Lord loves us and is always at our side.
Pope Francis also announced the location for the next World Youth Day. It is Seoul in South Korea in 2027.
After Mass we began our journeys back to the hotel in highs of 39°c. We made our way back in small groups and arrived at the hotel in drips and drabs with everyone having returned by about 4pm. This meant that we could spend the afternoon relaxing after a very busy two days, with lots of travel and little sleep, before having dinner together as a group with Bishop Peter in the evening.
Pictured top are some of the East Anglia group at the overnight Vigil in the Field of Grace.
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