Pope Francis has become the first person to sign up for next year’s World Youth Day. The Pope registered using an iPad in the window overlooking St Peter’s Square during his traditional Sunday blessing to thousands of pilgrims and tourists.
“Today we open registration for the 31st World Youth Day, to be held next year in Poland,” he said. “I invite the youth of the world to live this pilgrimage that will be going to Krakow.”
Flanked by a young Polish man and woman, Pope Francis said: “Thanks to this electronic device, I signed up as a simple pilgrim.”
The Pope said the World Youth Day would be “a jubilee of youth” and called on the faithful to reflect on its biblical theme, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.”
An electronic clock on the Renaissance Holy Mary Basilica in Krakow has begun counting down the days until the event, which 2.5 million people are expected to attend on July 26-31 next year.
World Youth Day was established by Polish pope St John Paul II in 1986, and has since been held on four continents.
Before signing up for World Youth Day Pope Francis appealed for the release of Fr Paola Dall’Oglio, the Italian Jesuit priest kidnapped in Syria two years ago.