To meet Pope Francis, some 19,000 pilgrims will leave Costa Rica, crossing the border into Panama during XXXIV World Youth Day being held between January 22 and 27.

On October 23, Panamanian youth delegates of the organization of the World Youth Day in Panama met with Pope Francis in Rome (Italy) as part of the preparations for the event will be held between January 22 and 27

The event is a gather of young people from all over the world with Pontiff, in a festive, religious and cultural atmosphere to show the dynamism of the Church among his faithful with less age.

World Youth Day (WYD) is held every three years. The last place in Krakow in 2016, where an estimated three million people attended.

World Youth Day was initiated by Pope John Paul II in 1985. Its concept has been influenced by the Light-Life Movement that has existed in Poland since the 1960s, where during summer camps Catholic young adults over 13 days of camp celebrated a “day of community”.

Óscar López Powan, coordinator of the Archdiocese of San José, confirmed 13,000 Costa Ricans registered as “pilgrims”, which gives them access to the main activities of the event, including two open-air ones that the priest will preside over: a reception on the afternoon of the 24th. January and the closing, with a mass on the 27th.

“Apart from the Costa Ricans, the arrival in Costa Rica of 6,000 foreign visitors from Central America, Europe and Asia is expected, who will participate here first of what we know as a pre-day called Days in the Dioceses, which are ecclesiastical activities prior to the trip to Panama “, commented López.

It is estimated that the participants will travel on at least 2,000 buses and buses from Costa Rica to the Peñas Blancas border crossing with Panama.

Costa Rica’s immigration service, Dirección General de Migración y Extranjería (DGME) confirmed that both nations will have an operational plan focused on speeding the crossing of the pilgrims. Authorities from both countries are expected to sign a cooperation agreement this week, informed the DGME press office.

To reach Cuidad Panama (Panama City) from San Jose, the trip is about 18 hours (including time spent at the border crossing).

To participate in the WYD, López explained, it is necessary to register. The event in Panama will be under strong security, which includes checkpoints in the security ring that will surround the Pope and the assistants.

The trip from Costa Rica will cost US$600 all-inclusive according to Teresita Quesada, manager of the agency Dreams Travel, who said that the great majority of registrations to the event have already been completed, but they are expecting last minute registrations.

In Panama, pilgrims can purchase on different packages for accomodations that range from US$50 to US$230, meals and transportation.

Though WYD is intended for ages 15-30, ALL ages are welcome.

Click here to visit the WYD Panama official website.

Click here for the World Youth Day website.

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