Star-gazing in Cologne

September, 2005

Cover Story 

Cologne took the spotlight as the world saw yet again the young, vibrant face of the Church when an estimated 1 million young pilgrims poured in from all quarters of the globe following the footsteps of the Magi to “discover the star on the roof of Cologne Cathedral” at the XX World Youth Day celebrations. It was an event of special significance for Jesus Youth as more than 600 of its members from 14 countries gathered alongside those from older movements such as Focolare, Neocatechumenal Way and Sant’Egidio, to leave their imprint and contribute their share to the success of the celebration. Everywhere for over a week, one could see processions of young people of different nationalities thronging the streets, filling the churches, crowding the buses and trains, streaming through the parks and gathering in large numbers at the festival venues, with the unmistakable WYD backpacks, colourful caps and scarves, and their respective national flags. There was festivity in the air with sounds of laughter and merriment, music and singing, shouting and clapping, interspersed with cries of “Giovanni Paolo” and “Benedicto”! The spirit of prayer and signs of faith were also evident at the catechesis sessions, in the churches, during the Way of the Cross, at the inaugural and concluding Masses, and during the Night Vigil, where young people in small groups or on their own could be seen praying, reciting the Rosary, reading the Bible, meditating, standing in line for confession, or simply sharing their faith experience.

Star-gazing in Cologne