SYDNEY pilgrims carried the gifts John Paul II offered to Catholic youth in an emotional procession before the World Youth Day Opening Mass in Krakow.
Twenty young adults were chosen to represent Australia in a procession marking the final journey of the WYD Cross and Icon to Krakow, Poland.
Pope John Paul II gave the Cross and Icon of Mary Salus Populi to Catholic youth of the world in 1984.
It has travelled across Poland and neighbouring countries since Brazilian youth handed over the gifts to Polish youth on Palm Sunday 2014.
Pilgrims James Flood and Haylee Tumanik were among the 20 young adults from the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney who passed the Cross and Icon to Madrid youth during the procession.
Ms Tumanik said being with the WYD cross was an emotional experience.
“I was there for 2008 in Sydney so to come full circle and get the Cross and Icon again and to be able to touch it and walk with it and to pass it on to Madrid was really special,” she said.
“I went to a few of the events where you could touch the cross and be with it so it was really great to be with the cross again.
“I was nearly close to tears just walking along and just knowing I was representing all the 3000 Australians that have come, it’s just a real blessing.”
Mr Flood, a university student from the Wahroonga parish in Sydney, said being chosen for the procession was an opportunity of a lifetime.
“It was fantastic and something that I will remember for a very long time,” Mr Flood said.
Mr Flood said the Sydney pilgrims chosen for the procession rehearsed for two days with representatives from all of the WYD host countries.
“It was really worth it carrying it that 30 metres of carrying the cross,” Mr Flood said.
“It was great and to think that we’re representing Australia.”
The Sydney pilgrims developed a close friendship with the youth representing Germany, the host city before Sydney.
“We prayed the Rosary together and invited the Americans to pray with us as we were waiting for rehearsals to start,” Ms Tumanik said.
“It was really special.”
The Cross and Icon remained exposed for personal adoration following the Opening Mass on Wednesday, July 27.
By Emilie Ng in Krakow