Now that the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have left Lisbon, Portugal, and World Youth Day (WYD) has ended after days of inspiring and faith-filled events, we take a look back at some of the most moving moments of WYD.

1. A picture taking social media by storm is of a disabled young man being lifted by his wheelchair high above the sea of WYD attendees.

2. A video of Pope Francis meeting a child in a wheelchair captured the hearts of journalists in Lisbon. You can see the young boy giving the Holy Father a gift. At the end of the video, the two give one another a high-five.

3. The EWTN News team in Lisbon found a pair of sisters from Toronto, Canada, who were attending WYD for the first time. Twenty-one-year-old Aurora and 23-year-old Gloria shared that they found out about WYD being in Portugal before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and, at that time, their mother encouraged them to attend. Their mother has since passed away and the sisters decided to attend the event in her honor.

4. As part of the WYD celebrations, Pope Francis heard the confessions of three young people in Reconciliation Park on Aug. 4. He took about 10 minutes to hear the private confessions of the young people. One heartwarming photo from this experience was a young woman being embraced by the Holy Father after her confession.

5. On Aug. 4 at the nunciature in Lisbon, Pope Francis met with Maria da Conceição Brito Mendonça, a 106-year-old woman who was born on the day of the apparitions of Fátima, May 13, 1917.

6. ACI Digital, CNA’s Portuguese-language news agency, shared the beautiful story of Carlos Wilson da Silva, 30, and Angélica Jesus Macedo, 35, who got engaged on Aug. 3 at the shrine of Fátima, Portugal. The engagement proposal was a surprise for the bride and for everyone who was there. “It’s very exciting, I didn’t imagine that he would ask me in front of the shrine. And I am so devoted to Our Lady of Fátima,” Angélica said. The couple is from Brazil, from Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Águas Claras. They attended WYD with a group of 99 people.


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7. Pope Francis paid a heartfelt visit to Fátima on Aug. 5. While he was there, he prayed the rosary with young people with disabilities and placed a bouquet of roses and a golden rosary at the feet of the statue of Our Lady of Fátima. “Dear brothers and sisters, today let us feel the presence of Mother Mary, the mother who will always tell us, ‘Do whatever Jesus tells you.’ She points us to Jesus,” the pope said.

8. In front of an estimated 800,000 people, Pope Francis shared a powerful message to the youth during the Stations of the Cross on Aug. 4. He said: “We’ve all cried in life and continue to do so. Jesus is with us; he cries with us and accompanies us in the darkness that leads to tears. With tenderness, he wipes our tears.”

9. Pope Francis ended WYD at a Mass with an estimated 1.5 million people. However, before he left, he had a public address with the nearly 25,000 volunteers who kept the international event running from start to finish. One particular photo from the meeting stood out — a young volunteer gave the pope a warm embrace.

Pope Francis embraces WYD2023 volunteer after closing Mass in Lisbon, Aug 6, 2023. (Vatican Media via CNA)

10. Another moving moment from the closing Mass of WYD was Pope Francis saying farewell to Lisbon by praying at the feet of the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fátima, which was brought directly from the sanctuary to the closing Mass. Pope Francis told the youth: “Dear young people, I would like to look into the eyes of each one of you and tell you: Be not afraid, be not afraid.”