A large wooden Cross, known as the WYD Cross, was given to the young people of the world by Pope John Paul II at the end of the Year of Redemption in 1984. Pope John Paul II gave it to the young people as a symbol of Christ’s love. As a representative for the youth of the world, the Saint Lawrence International Youth Center in Rome accepted the cross. When the cross is not at World Youth Day, it generally resides at the youth center. When handing off the cross to the youth center, Pope John Paul II said:
“My dear young people, at the conclusion of this Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the Cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the world as a symbol of Christ’s love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption.” (Rome, 22 April 1984)
Since Pope John Paul II first presented the World Youth Day Cross, it has traveled the world to Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Australia. It has been at every World Youth Day.
The Icon of Our Lady
In 2003, Pope John Paul II decided to give another symbol of faith to the youth of the world, so they could take it around the world along with the Cross. This second symbol was an Icon of Our Lady, Salus Populi Romanix. This symbol is a copy of a venerated icon found in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome, Italy. When handing this symbol off to the youth, Pope John Paul II declared:
“From now on it will accompany the World Youth Days, together with the Cross. Behold, your Mother! It will be a sign of Mary’s motherly presence close to young people who are called, like the Apostle John, to welcome her into their lives.” (Angelus, 18th World Youth Day, 13 April 2003)