World Youth Day Cross Went Behind the Iron Curtain

Was Kept in Residence of Clandestine Bishop of Bucharest

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ROME, FEB. 28, 2002 ( When the World Youth Day cross visited the ruins of New York´s twin towers on Monday, it was not the first time it became a sign of hope in a critical moment of history.

One day in 1988, the WYD cross arrived in a capital city behind the Iron Curtain.

The 30 kilos of wood appeared in the Bucharest, Romania, residence of clandestine Bishop (now Cardinal) Alexandru Todea. Following 13 years of incarceration, Bishop Todea was in the process of secretly reorganizing the Byzantine-rite community.

Few Romanians knew how the cross made it across the border. Later, the prelate revealed that cross was smuggled in, in three pieces.

This courageous action was the idea of youths, who shipped the longest piece as merchandise. The other two sections were concealed in the backpacks of two Romanian youths who crossed the border on different days, so as not to attract police attention.

Once in Bishop Todea´s residence, the cross was the object of pilgrimages. Some of the faithful wept when they saw the cross, an expression of affection of the Church and the Polish Pope.

The cross has now gone around the world, and John Paul II decided to have a copy of it made. One of the crosses is in the St. Lawrence International Youth Center in Rome, and the other continues to travel. At present, it is preparing faithful for the World Youth Day in Toronto this July.

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