Pope Francis will fly to Lisbon, Portugal today for the 38th World Youth Day, a gathering of over a million young people aged 16-35 taking place every two or three years.

World Youth Day was established by Pope John Paul II in 1985 and the first one was hosted in Rome the following year. On Monday Pope Francis visited the Roman Basilica of Mary Major to pray before the icon of Mary, Salus Populi Romani entrusting this Apostolic journey to her.

The theme of World Youth Day in Lisbon is “Mary arose and went with haste” based on the scripture from Luke 1:39. This theme is closely linked to the theme for the world day of grandparents, ‘His mercy is from age to age’.

In March of this year, Pope Francis delved deeper into the theme saying:

“Dear young people now is the time to set out in haste towards concrete encounters, towards genuine acceptance of those different from ourselves”.

Lisbon will be Pope Francis’ fourth World Youth Day following his visits to Rio, Krakow and Panama. He will visit the pilgrimage shrine at Fatima as part of his time in Portugal, ending his time in Portugal by celebrating a missioning Mass which will be live streamed via Vatican Media.

Pope Francis’ message for the 38th World Youth Day in Lisbon