Friday 21 July 2017

Memories of World Youth Day 2002

Fifteen years ago, Toronto hosted World Youth Day, an international celebration of Catholic faith established by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1985. The week-long youth festival (July 23-28, 2002) culminated in a papal mass at Downsview Park. It was the last time John Paul II personally attended the event.

The theme of World Youth Day 2002 was "You are the salt of the are the light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-14). One outcome of WYD 2002 was the establishment of Canada's first national Catholic network, Salt + Light Television. Visit their website for footage of WYD 2002 events.

As the archdiocesan archives of the host city, we have some interesting mementos of World Youth Day 2002 in our holdings:

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

World Youth Day 2002 hard hat belonging to Aloysius Cardinal Ambrozic, Archbishop of Toronto.  Worn during the groundbreaking ceremony at Downsview Park.  (Photo: Catholic Register [ARCAT microfilm copy], 12 June 2005)

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

Bronze medal by Dora de Pédery-Hunt depicting the Sermon on the Mount, from which WYD2002 took its theme: "You are the salt of the are the light of the world."  On the verso is inscribed "Dies Juvenum Toronto / MMII." 
Cardinal Ambrozic was a patron of the Hungarian-Canadian sculptor; he commissioned and collected many of De Pédery-Hunt's works. Copies of this medal were gifted to attending bishops.

Graphics Collection, PH31W/30ST

These stamps and Date of Issue envelope were presented to Cardinal Ambrozic by Canada Post on the occasion of the official unveiling of the World Youth Day stamp

Accession 2015-001

White mitre with yellow, blue and red brush strokes and yellow lappets. Worn with matching stole and chasuble by all attending bishops during the WYD 2002 Papal Mass at Downsview Park.

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

The ubiquitous pilgrim bag given to WYD 2002 participants. Contents include: bandanna, candle, rosary, Toronto postcards, Canadian flag and pin, TTC maps. 350,000 of these bags were manufactured.

World Youth Day 2002 Special Collection, OC 31

Toronto Transit Commission Pass for unlimited travel on the day of the Papal Mass, 28 July 2002


  1. Funny you should have posted this yesterday! It seems we're on the same page, or at least in the same chapter. As we speak, one of my summer students is cataloging the World Youth Day chasuble Archbishop Prendergast wore for World Youth Day 2002. We don't have the mitre, though! Hope to see you in September! Sharon Riel, Archivist, Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth.

    1. Hi Sharon! We have two mitres but no chasubles. We were also hoping to find some photographs of bishops in their WYD vestments for this post, but no luck.