(ZENIT News / Lisbon, 08.05.2023).- On the evening of Saturday, August 5th, Pope Francis traveled by car from the Apostolic Nunciature to S. João de Brito College for a private meeting with the Jesuits of Portugal. After the meeting, he returned to the Nunciature and later transferred by car to Parque Trejo for the Prayer Vigil with the young people.
The Pope arrived at the park, located on the outskirts of Lisbon, in a closed car. Once there, he switched to the popemobile to tour the avenues where one and a half million people, mostly young, were waiting for him.
Moments before the Pope’s arrival, several groups of singers entertained the young people who had arrived at the location very early. Before the Pope’s arrival, drones appeared in the sky forming the word “Rise” in various languages. The formation of drones referred to the theme of the World Youth Day, which revolved around the idea that Mary got up and went to serve her cousin Elizabeth. The Pope would also refer to this in his speech.
After the popemobile tour, the Pope ascended to the main stage and began the vigil, divided into two parts: one with songs, testimonies, and the Pope’s words; and the second part, dedicated to adoration of the Eucharist. On the stage, near the altar, there were relics of the patrons of the World Youth Day: Saints John Paul II, Vincent of Huesca, Anthony of Portugal, Bartholomew of the Martyrs, John de Brito, Joanna of Portugal; and the Blessed Clara of the Child Jesus, Pier Giorgio Frassati, Chiara Badano, and Carlo Acutis.
The first part of the vigil started with a musical performance followed by a dance performance that mixed dance with images and messages on screens, as well as the sound of bells.
After the performance, two people gave their testimonies: 33-year-old Portuguese priest Antonio Ribeiro de Matos, and 18-year-old Marta Luis, originally from Mozambique. Father Ribeiro shared his experience of feeling a lack of purpose in life, which led him to question his existence in the world. This eventually led him to the seminary, a path he temporarily abandoned but later resumed with greater maturity after the World Youth Day in Panama.
Marta Luis spoke about her city, a city that has been suffering from war for the past 5 years. Coming from a poor family, she became an orphan at the age of 7. She and her family have experienced the effects of anti-Christian terrorism in her native Mozambique. She recounted her experience of hiding in the forest for 4 days after a terrorist invasion and how even after they left, her mother and four sisters continued to sleep in the forest out of fear of their return.
After the testimonies, there was a second performance that led to the Pope’s speech to the young people. The Pope delivered the speech without using the prepared text, allowing him to interact with the youth and ask them questions.
After the speech, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed. One and a half million people silently adored Jesus on a peaceful night, beside the sea, in the Portuguese capital. Following the adoration, both the young people and the Pope received the blessing with the Eucharist. The Patriarch of Lisbon gave the blessing.
During the acclamations to the Eucharist after the blessing, the cameras showed the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, reciting the invocations. President Rebelo de Sousa is openly Catholic and has vetoed the euthanasia law approved by the Portuguese Parliament on several occasions.
After the vigil, the Pope returned to the Nunciature to rest.