The Vatican

Pope celebrates first World Children's Day

On May 25-26, Pope Francis celebrated in Rome the first World Children's Day, organized by the Dicastery for Culture and Education, with the theme "I make all things new".

Loreto Rios-May 26, 2024-Reading time: 3 minutes

The Pope meets children at Rome's Olympic Stadium, May 25, 2024 ©OSV

As part of the celebration of World Children's Day, the Holy Father met with children from all over the world on Saturday, May 25, at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. This event was inaugurated by a parade of more than one hundred delegations dressed in traditional costumes. Upon his arrival, the Pope was greeted by the organizers of the Day, accompanied by five children, one from each continent, who greeted Francis in their native language.

Then, the Pontiff said a few words The children were able to ask him questions in front of the 50,000 people in attendance.

Speech at the Olympic Stadium

To begin with, the Papa expressed his joy for the celebration of World Children's Day. "In you, children, everything speaks of life and of the future. And the Church, who is a mother, welcomes you and accompanies you with tenderness and hope. Last November 6, I had the joy of welcoming thousands of children from many parts of the world to the Vatican. That day they brought with them a torrent of joy; and they asked me their questions about the future. That meeting left a mark on my heart and I understood that this talk with you had to continue, had to be extended to many other children and adolescents. And that is why we are here today, to continue the dialogue, asking questions and giving answers", Francis explained.

On the other hand, the Pope recalled the children who live in countries at war or in difficult situations: "There are girls and boys who cannot go to school. These are realities that I also carry in my heart, and I pray for them. Let us pray for the children who cannot go to school, for the children who suffer from wars, for the children who have nothing to eat, for the children who are sick and no one takes care of them".

Referring to the theme of the Day, Francis said that "it is very beautiful. Think: God wants this, everything that is not new passes away. God is novelty. The Lord always gives us novelty. Dear children, let us go ahead and have joy. Joy is health for the soul. Dear children, Jesus said in the Gospel that He loves you very much. One question: Does Jesus love you very much? You can't hear it [the children answer 'yes']. And the devil, does he love you [the children answer 'no']. Excellent! Courage and go ahead.

To conclude, the Pope prayed a Hail Mary to the "Mother of Heaven" with the children.

Closing Mass

On May 26, at 10:30 a.m., the Pope presided at the closing Mass of World Children's Day. Francis began his homily by explaining to the children the mystery of the Holy Trinity: "Dear children, dear girls, we are here to pray, to pray together, to pray to God. Do you agree? Do you agree? Yes? And we pray to God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. How many 'gods' are there? One in three persons: the Father who created us all, who loves us so much, and when we pray to God the Father, what is the prayer we all pray? [they answer: the Lord's Prayer]".

The Holy Father then focused on the Second Person of the Trinity: "What is the name of the Son [answer: Jesus]? We pray to Jesus to help us, to be close to us and also when we receive communion we receive Jesus and Jesus forgives us all our sins. Is it true that Jesus forgives everything? Is it true? Yes, but does he always forgive everything [answer: yes]? Always, always, always? [answer: yes]".

Thirdly, the Pontiff moved on to the most "difficult": the Holy Spirit. "The problem is: who is the Holy Spirit? Eh, it is not easy, because the Holy Spirit is God, He is within us. We receive the Holy Spirit in Baptism, we receive him in the Sacraments. The Holy Spirit is the one who accompanies us in life. We think about it and we say it together: 'The Holy Spirit accompanies us in life,'" the Pope explained.

To conclude his homily, Francis stressed the importance of the Virgin Mary in the Christian life: "We Christians also have a Mother, what is the name of our Mother? What is the name of our Heavenly Mother? [answer: Mary] Do you know how to pray to Our Lady? [answer: yes] Are you sure? Let's do it now, I want to hear... [they recite the Hail Mary]".

Finally, the Pope asked the children to pray for everyone: for himself, for parents, grandparents, sick children and for peace in the world.

Other activities and next call for proposals

World Children's Day also featured a speech by actor Roberto Benigni, who starred in the movie "Life is Beautiful," after the closing Mass, as well as the praying of the Regina Coeli with all the children.

Finally, at around 12:10 p.m. on May 26, the Pope announced the date of the next World Children's Day: September 2026. "We look forward to seeing you there, thank you all", Francis invited.

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