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These are holy men and women identified as special patrons for pilgrims from the United States on pilgrimage to World Youth Day. We ask their intercession for stateside and internationally-bound youth and young adults in preparation for the upcoming World Youth Day events.
Patron of pilgrim travelers, James walked with Jesus after being called by the Lord to become one of the Twelve Apostles. James had a special place among the disciples: with Simon Peter and his brother John, James traveled up Mount Tabor to witness the Transfiguration of Christ and joined Jesus in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Acts 12:1 tells us that James was one of the first martyrs of the Church. Over the centuries, pilgrims have followed in the Apostle's footsteps to his final resting place in Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. The road to his tomb, called the Camino de Compostela, has been a model for pilgrims for generations - and continues to be an inspiration for all those on pilgrimage, including those en route to World Youth Day.
Young faithful witness from our native land and declared the "Lily of the Mohawks," St. Kateri lost her family at the age of four due to a smallpox epidemic and suffered greatly from the disease herself. She learned about the Gospel from a group of Jesuits and, after converting, was disrespected and persecuted by her own community for being a Christian. She consecrated herself as a virgin and was known for spending most of her youth and young adult years in adoration with the Lord. She is a model of purity, chastity, and the New Evangelization. She embodied both the Gospel and her native culture. St. Kateri is an inspiration to all World Youth Day pilgrims who come on pilgrimage carrying the weight of suffering, anxiety, and persecution.
Man of the beatitudes and patron of young adults, Pier Giorgio was extraordinary in his "ordinaryness." He was a well-balanced young person who lived in northern Italy during the early 20th Century, dedicated to his faith and loyal to his family and friends. He gave freely to the poor and sick, even using his bus fare for charity and then running home to be on time for meals. He was a third order (lay) Dominican and studied to become an engineer for the sole purpose that he might "serve Christ better among the miners." He spend his free time running between Eucharistic adoration and Mass, serving the poor, being a social and political activist against the growing fascist regime in Italy, and enjoying time with friends in the mountains. St. John Paul II took note of his life, beatifying him in 1990 and declaring him a major patron of World Youth Day and of all young adults around the world. His body will be brought to Krakow for World Youth Day in 2016. Learn more about Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati at the Frassati USA website.
Son of Poland and patron of World Youth Day, Saint John Paul II was Pope for 26 years. Born Karol Wojtyla in the town of Wadowice, not far from Krakow, he came of age during the Nazi occupation of Poland, eventually becoming a priest (and ordained in secret in the palace of the Archbishop of Krakow). After WWII, Fr. Wojtyla became known for his work with young adults, despite Communist oppression, and soon became a bishop, then archbishop, and cardinal in the 1950s and 1960s. He was an active participant in the Second Vatican Council and was elected pope in October 1978. As pope, he traveled more and met more people than any of his predecessors in the Chair of Peter. In 1984, he inaugurated an annual gathering of youth and young adults - which would become World Youth Day. He died in April 2005, and was canonized (alongside Pope John XXIII) in Rome in April 2014. He is the father and patron saint of World Youth Day.
Patroness of the United States of America
The Blessed Mother, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, has been a patroness of the United States since 1846. She was chosen as such because of the common devotions to Mary (especially as the Immaculate Conception) that many ethnic groups brought when they came to the United States, an immigrant country. She serves, then, as a uniting patroness to the diversity of cultures, traditions, and perspectives of people in this country. She is the spiritual embodiment of the nation's vision statement: "E pluribus unum" (out of many, one). As pilgrims to World Youth Day, Mary the Immaculate Conception can once more be a uniting force bringing together all the young people from such a diverse country as ours (with its beautiful collage of language groups and cultural families; those from cities and small towns, suburbs and farmland; the rich, the poor, and the middle class; those working and those studying; from the West Coast to the East Coast, from the North to the South, from the Midwest to the mountains). The Blessed Mother, with her maternal love for us, brings all people together to point them towards God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
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