Preview of events for World Youth Day 2011

People gather for a Mass and concert May 8 at an arena in Madrid, marking 100 days until the start of WYD 2011. CNS photo

World Youth Day 2011 commences in Madrid on Aug. 16, and the already vibrant city will be brimming with the additional energy of more than a million pilgrims — representing all seven continents — plus more than 20,000 priests and men and women religious, all eager to share in this communal Catholic experience. 

Spain has hosted one previous World Youth Day, in Santiago de Compostela in 1989. For this year's celebration, Spain will see a new generation of pilgrims flocking to its capital and largest city for six days of prayer, spiritual strengthening and a healthy dose of local culture in the form of music, museum tours and a professional soccer match for charity.  

Tuesday, Aug. 16:  

WYD will officially kick off with an opening evening Mass in Cibeles Square, presided over by the archbishop of Madrid and concelebrated by international bishops and priests.

Wednesday, Aug. 17: 

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will host its inaugural vocations fair.

Thursday, Aug. 18:  

Pope Benedict XVI will arrive at the Madrid airport, followed by a welcome ceremony at the state hall and a drive through Madrid in the Popemobile. That evening there will be a larger welcome ceremony at Cibeles Square. 

Friday, Aug. 19:

Pope Benedict will meet with select groups at the monastery of El Escorial, a historical royal residence 30 miles outside of Madrid.  

That evening, traditional statues from throughout Spain will be used to illustrate the Stations of the Cross.  

Saturday, Aug. 20: 

The pilgrims will partake in a 5-mile walk through Madrid to Cuatro Vientos, Spain's oldest airport. Preparation for the evening vigil will involve music, prayers and testimonies. 

Pope Benedict will arrive that evening to address the crowd, and Eucharistic adoration will begin. Pilgrims will spend the night on the airfield. 

Sunday, Aug. 21: 

Pope Benedict will return to Cuatro Vientos to celebrate the final Mass, with thousands of bishops and priests concelebrating. He will address the crowd and announce the location of the next WYD. 

That evening, retired professional soccer stars from around the world will participate in the ¡Gracias! charity match at Vicente Calderón Stadium, home of the Atlético Madrid team. 

Get live updates from WYD events by following OSV Newsweekly's intern, Lindsay Ross, on Twitter (@LindsayWYD), YouTube (LindsayRoss12) and by checking