The language of faith

A global gathering of youth. A Mass with the Pope and 2 million pilgrims.

The language of faith
The faithful gather: World Youth Day in Madrid. Photo from Getty Images.

To celebrate World Youth Day in August, upwards of 2 million people from 192 countries gathered in Madrid, Spain, for one of the planet’s largest modern pilgrimages. Leading a group of eight Santa Clara students on a three-week journey there were Director of Campus Ministry Jack Treacy, S.J. ’77, and Assistant Professor of History Paul Mariani, S.J.

The Santa Clara group also participated in the Magis, where 2,500 members of Jesuit institutions and parishes worldwide began their spiritual journey. This year, the pilgrimage began in Loyola, birthplace of St. Ignatius, where Santa Clara students Felipe Yerkes Medina ’12 and Kate Flannery ’12 led a workshop on volunteerism.

Along on the next legs—journeys to Burgos and Malaga—were students from Korea, Mauritius, Spain, and Chile. Treacy observed that, quickly, “the differences just melt away.” They started the pilgrimage speaking three different languages and finished speaking the language of faith.

The culmination of the pilgrimage was World Youth Day in Madrid, where Catholics from every continent celebrated their faith in a Mass led by Pope Benedict. For Mariani, the silent prayer was a wondrous moment indeed: “The entire crowd of 2 million fell completely quiet,” he said. “We could only hear the wind.”

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