By Jack Whibley, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Two solid days of rain in Rio de Janeiro have forced the organizers of World Youth Day (WYD) to change the plans for this weekend’s WYD vigil and closing mass, which will now take place on Copacabana beach rather than the Campus Fidei (Field of Faith) site built for the event in the Zona Oeste (West Zone) area of Guaratiba.
The inclement weather of the past week, not uncommon during Rio’s winter, has turned the Fields of Faith in Zona Oeste (West Zone) into a mud bath, making it unsafe for both the overnight vigil and closing mass that was originally schedule to be held there this weekend.
The planned 13km pilgrimage to Guaratiba today cannot now be held but a new plan has been put in place.
Rio’s Mayor, Eduardo Paes, announced at a press conference on Friday that a 9.5km pilgrimage path will be set up to allow the visiting faithful to walk from the Central do Brasil train station in Centro to Copacabana for the vigil and closing mass. The pilgrim’s way will be open from 7AM on Saturday to 7PM on Sunday.
The changes mean that many pilgrims plan to spend Saturday night on Copacabana Beach after the vigil. Mayor Paes has assured their safety, saying, “Security forces will be here, and I’m sure there will be no problem for those who choose to sleep on the beach.”
Despite the change of location, the timetable for the weekend’s events is due to remain broadly the same. Saturday night’s vigil is set to start at 7:30PM as planned but will last only two hours. Sunday’s Mass will then begin at 10AM.
In a press release, Monsignor Paulo Cezar Costa, vice president of the WYD organizing committee, explained the changes.
“It was a difficult, but responsible, decision, always thinking of the safety of our pilgrim. Copacabana has always been our plan B, and now we must apply it. The pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro are already feeling the fruits of WYD. Let this WYD stay cheerful and happy,” Costa said.
The rainy, cold weather, as well as problems on Rio’s subway system have put a damper on WYD events this week. The first two days of WYD saw pilgrims stranded because of problems on the metro. On Wednesday, the Pope flew to Our Lady of Aparecida on a plane rather than in a helicopter due to strong winds. On Thursday, the satellite link-up for the Pope’s welcoming ceremony was disrupted by the weather.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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