Organizers for World Youth Day in Portugal on Tuesday released the initial attendance tallies, claiming a record ‘with the most nationalities’ in WYD history.
Jorge Messias, head of WYD logistics department, said all countries are taking part in the week-long celebrations except Maldives.
“It is the WYD with the most nationalities in its history,” Messias said in a press conference.
At least 354,000 registered pilgrims showed up on the first day, with Spain as the country with the highest delegates of more than 77,000.
Spain was followed by Italy with 59,469 participants, the host nation Portugal with 43,742; France with 42,482; and the United States with 19,196.
But Messias said they expect the number of pilgrims to increase throughout the week, with around 750,000 people expected in Parque Eduardo and one million in Parque Tejo.
Overall, about 25,000 volunteers from across the world are involved in the WYD, who are distributed in various teams. More than 100 of them are Filipinos.
Organizers also said there are about 688 bishops who registered for the event — of which 30 are cardinals.
WYD Lisbon has counted about 5,000 media professionals accredited to cover the event, which will conclude on August 6.
Tuesday’s events include a Mass at the Parque Eduardo VII in Lisbon that was presided over by Cardinal Manuel Clemente of Lisbon.
In his homily, he welcomed the pilgrims and wished them “a happy and inspiring World Youth Day”.
“Lisbon welcomes you wholeheartedly,” Clemente said. “You are welcomed by the families and institutions that have made their spaces and their service available.
Pope Francis will arrive in Lisbon on Wednesday morning. The day will revolve around institutional meetings with the Portuguese president, the authorities, and the diplomatic corps.
In the afternoon, the pope is expected to pray with a group of bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated men and women, seminarians, and pastoral workers at Jerónimos Monastery.
The official welcoming ceremony for WYD with the pontiff will take place at Eduardo Park VII on Thursday, Aug. 3.
For more updates on the WYD from Roy Lagarde, visit CBCP News