Pope Benedict leads 235,000 in spectacular Vigil
Saturday 19 July 2008
Pope Benedict XVI leads 235,000 in spectacular Evening Vigil
Around 235,000 people have enjoyed a candle-lit Evening Vigil with His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI at Randwick Racecourse this evening.
The Holy Father presided over a spectacular two-hour presentation of liturgy and music, setting the stage for tomorrow’s pinnacle – the World Youth Day 2008 Final Mass.
“The atmosphere was one of joyful celebration, but also of prayerful reflection,” WYD08 spokesman Jim Hanna said.
“The Vigil explored the themes of the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the way in which the Holy Spirit works to transform the lives of the pilgrims.
“It was a truly special and memorable occasion.”
A night-time Randwick Racecourse was transformed into a sea of colour and candle light, as the Holy Father called on the faithful to hear Christ’s great promise and pray together, as his Apostles did.
“Tonight, we do the same. Gathered before our much-travelled Cross and the Icon of Mary and under the magnificent constellation of the Southern Cross, we pray,” he said.
“We recall our parents and grandparents who walked alongside us when we, as children, were taking our first steps in our pilgrim journey of faith.
“Now many years later, you have gathered as young adults with the Successor of Peter. I am filled with deep joy to be with you.”
Earlier in the evening, the Holy Father made paid a surprise visit to retired Cardinal Edward Bede Clancy, a former Archbishop of Sydney at the Mt St Josephs Home in Randwick, run by the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Cardinal Clancy, 84, was the seventh Archbishop of Sydney, serving from 1983 to 2001.
The Holy Father also visited retired Bishops William Brennan and William Murray and 92 year old Rosemarie Goldie - the Sydney-born former under-secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the first woman to hold such an office in the Vatican.
His Holiness also spoke with several retired priests staying at the home in a visit that lasted around 20 minutes.
All were said to be thrilled by the Holy Father’s visit, a late addition to his schedule.