WHEN World Youth Day 2000 banners went up along the street leading to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, pilgrims, as if on command, began arriving for the event.
Five days ahead of last Tuesday’s welcoming ceremony kicking off World Youth Day, the first wave of young people rolled into Rome on planes, trains and buses, with a handful taking a more traditional form of transportation – their own two feet.
More than 500,000 young people were expected in Rome for the event.
A group of 11 Italian youths walked 600km from the northern city of Mantua, arriving in Rome on August 10 with the official World Youth Day cross, passed on to the Italians following World Youth Day 1997 in Paris.
Joined along the way by many others for part of the journey, the group totalled 98 as it made its way into St Peter’s Square, the destination for many early arrivals.
As the countdown began in earnest, hundreds of the event’s 25,000 volunteers could be seen roaming about the square, proudly wearing their assigned volunteer caps and T-shirts.
Along with volunteers, other participants hit Rome’s streets, eager to do some sightseeing before their days filled up with scheduled World Youth Day activities.
More than 1200 Australian young people travelled to Rome to take part in World Youth Day celebrations.