Their common point: to have all devoted themselves to young people. Regardless of their sex or nationality, the 13 saints and blesseds chosen by the local organizing committee have “shown that life with Christ fulfills and saves young people of all times”, said the Cardinal-Patriarch of Lisbon, Bishop Manuel Clemente. A list preceded of course by the Virgin Mary, patron saint par excellence, as evidenced by the motto of WYD 2023 chosen by Pope Francis: “Mary got up and went in haste” (Lk 1,39).
- Saint John Paul II (1920-2005)
The Polish Pope (from 1978 to 2005) initiated, in 1985, the idea of World Youth Days in his letter “Always ready to bear witness to the hope that is in you” and made an appointment with young people from all over the world from the following year in Buenos Aires, in order to get closer to them and transmit to them faith in Jesus Christ.
- Saint John Bosco (1815-1888)
Proclaimed “Father and Master of Youth” by John Paul II, this Italian priest dedicated his life to young people in the working-class neighborhoods of Turin in the 19th century.
- Saint Vincent (4th century)
Deacon in 4th century Spain, Vincent of Zaragoza was arrested one day in Valencia in order to force him to submit to the Emperor. Recalcitrant, he suffered the most cruel tortures until his death sentence. This devotee of God responded to his sufferings with laughter and song. Patron of the Diocese of Lisbon, Saint Vincent will welcome and strengthen each young person with his commitment and bravery.
- Saint Anthony (1195-1231)
In the 13th century, Saint Anthony of Padua left Lisbon for Morocco, France and Italy, converting many people to the Gospel along his way. The one who will later be recognized as a Doctor of the Church is canonized only a year after his death by Pope Leo XIII who will call him “the saint of the whole world”.
- Saint Bartholomew of the Martyrs (1514-1590)
Dominican and Archbishop of Braga (Portugal), the prelate, born in Lisbon, participated in the last phase of the Council of Trent (from 1561 to 1563) which sought to reform the Church. He advocates a rapprochement between the shepherds of the sheep, a vision still shared today by Pope Francis, who canonized him in 2019.
- Saint John of Britto (1647-1693)
In the 17th century, this young Jesuit from Lisbon went to India to announce the Gospel. He was then 26 years old. On the spot, he shared his faith, even converted a prince, before dying as a martyr. The East Indian apostle was canonized by Pius XII in 1947.
- Blessed Joan of Portugal (1452-1490)
Daughter of King Alphonse V, the princess renounces her status, preferring the convent to the castle. At the age of 19, she entered the monastery of the Dominicans of Aveiro where she died in 1490. She was nicknamed Saint Joan Princess for her courage in following the path of Christ.
- blessed João Fernandes (1547-1570)
In 1570, this young Jesuit was martyred at sea, along with 39 other missionaries, by Calvinist corsairs, while they were on their way to Brazil to proclaim the Gospel there.
- Blessed Marie Claire of the Child Jesus (1843-1899)
This Portuguese aristocrat becomes an orphan at the age of 14, without being discouraged. She very quickly chose to put herself at the service of the poor and founded a religious congregation for this purpose – an approach that was however formally prohibited at the time. She then fought to maintain the Franciscan Hospitallers of the Immaculate Conception until her death in 1899, constantly hammering: “Where good must be done, let it be done!”
- Blessed Pierre Georges Frassati (1901-1925)
Qualified as “the man of the eight beatitudes” by John Paul II, this young Italian died at the age of 24 in Turin, in 1925, after contracting an illness during his service to the poor. On his way, people were touched by his dynamism, his faith and his joie de vivre.
- blessed Marcel Callo (1921-1945)
This Frenchman, born in Rennes in 1921, got involved in scouting very early on, before joining the Christian Worker Youth (JOC). At 22, like many of his fellow citizens during the Second World War, he was requisitioned as part of compulsory labor and continued his mission of evangelization in difficult living conditions. Suffering from cold and malnutrition, he ended up being deported to the Mauthausen camp where he died in 1945.
- Blessed Chiara “Luce” Badano, (1971-1990)
This Italian died at the age of 18 from bone cancer. Despite the suffering, the young faithful, who adhered to the spiritual movement of the Focolare, spread hope and happiness. She was beatified in 2010.
- Blessed Carlo Acutis (1991-2006)
A year after the death of Blessed Chiara “Luce” Badano was born Carlo Acutis, also Italian. Like the latter, he died very young – at 15 – from a serious illness. Despite his leukemia, he devoted himself enormously to Mary, conveying this devotion, among other things, through the Internet.