Madrid's Mobs of Youth

ATTENTION, WYD Pilgrims: While you’re in Madrid, do yourself a favor, and try the incredibly delicious, air-cured “Iberian Ham.”

You’re welcome.

Meanwhile Archbishop Chaput recalls WYD ’93, in Colorado

Cardinal J. Francis Stafford, my friend and predecessor as archbishop of Denver, hosted World Youth Day in August 1993, and he still likes to tell the following story.

One of his staffers had just moved to Colorado from a much larger and higher crime city on the West Coast. The man was driving his family home late one evening, when the street— four lanes wide—was suddenly blocked by a huge mob of teens swarming out of the dark. As urban panic kicked in, and he threw the car in reverse, his wife helpfully pointed out that the kids were … singing a Marian hymn.

The “mob” turned out to be hundreds of French World Youth Day pilgrims walking back to their parish sleeping quarters. It was a moment of grace—unexpected, implausible and beautiful—and similar moments of grace happened again and again all over the city during those extraordinary days.

Yes, I suspect the mobs of Madrid will be a high contrast to the “mobs” we’re seeing in the rest of the world. That’s a nice article, so read the whole thing. This afternoon, the Landing Page will be featuring a piece on that same gathering, and another, by Sister Mary Ann Walsh.

One story I recall reading from that event was about the arrival of Pope John Paul II, who was hovering over the stadium in a chopper. Supposedly the cheers and crowds were so loud, the chopper pilot said the force of their feeling made the landing trickier than usual.

Please pray for me, pilgrims, and my intentions. I have a big one that will need lots of prayers!

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • DS

    Will do, also prayed for you and your family while in Kenya. Their worship was incredible – felt like the Lord was bending a bit closer to the earth there. Enjoy Spain!

  • Janette Dolores

    Prayer said. Enjoy Spain–one of my favorite countries aside from the U.S.–and definitely everyone traveling there should try the Iberian ham. Sliced thin, with a peace of crusty bread and some Manchego (sheep’s milk) cheese. Delicious.

  • Bro. AJK

    I went to WYD in Toronto. I spoke with some of the locals and they were prepared for the worst, not only crowded transportation. They were amazed at the behaviors of the pilgrims, i.e., they did not riot. That to me was telling.

    Also, I’d recommend tetilla cheese. It is a weird sensation.

  • WYD Wannabe

    Anchoress, are you going to Madrid?

    [No, I'm sorry if this piece gives that impression. We were there for a day last year on the way to Rome. Too hot for Lizzie in August! -admin]

  • expat

    I agree with you about Spanish hams. I love Serrano. It has just enough salt to waken the flavor of a sweet melon.