Reunion in one of the most beautiful cities in europe

The World Youth Day in Panama could not attract too many young people from Europe to Latin America. That's likely to change in 2022. Then it goes on the traces of one of the completely large seafaring nations.

Goodbye to one of the most beautiful cities in Europe! The World Youth Day moves on. At the conclusion of the major meeting in Panama City, the Vatican announced the next venue at noon on Sunday (local time): Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. For insiders, the news came as little surprise since the presidential palace had confirmed President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa's trip to Panama.

Pope Francis visited Portugal back in 2017 – but it was only a 30-hour trip to the small town of Fatima, for the 100th time. Anniversary of the Marian apparitions there. Perhaps he will come again in 2022 for the WYD; then he would be 85, soon 86 years old.

Lisbon stands for internationality

Lisbon offers a grandiose backdrop for a rush of young people with its historic monasteries, its old town, the spectacular panoramas, the harbor district and the legendary squeaking streetcar line 28E from 1901. Across the Tagus River, Almada's monumental "Cristo Rei" statue of Christ spreads its arms over Portugal's capital city.

Lisbon stands for internationality. From here Portugal's kings sent ships to create a world empire. The EU Treaty of Lisbon, which was supposed to make the European Union more democratic, efficient and transparent, was signed here in 2007.

Portugal's gaze always went to that faraway place that needed to be conquered. There also the glorious past lies, against which the laborious catching up in the EU of today often looks futile and dreary. For a few decades of its history, the small country had catapulted to the status of seafaring nation and world power number one, since the beginning of the 15th century. The bishops of the twentieth century set their sails into the unknown.

Abundance of money and exoticism

Under King Manuel I. (1495-1521), "the lucky one," Portugal experiences its Golden Age. Trade in spices and other luxury goods from India, Africa, the Far East and the Orient fetches fantasy prices and ensures overflowing coffers. Along with the coveted goods, fantastic new cultural influences are returning to the homeland. Buildings are being erected that are unparalleled in the rest of Europe.

The abundance of money and exoticism produces its own, Portuguese art style: the so-called Manuelinik. Its highest embodiment has become the Jerome Monastery, begun in 1501. Lush late Gothic vaults, tracery and tombs that say: everything in the world Portugal owns – it doesn't need to skimp on anything.

But the small country rises above. In search of wealth, the country people leave their dry fields and become soldiers of fortune. All too soon after the meteoric rise comes the deep fall: the young king Sebastiao dies in battle in 1578; the "Sixty Years" follow – a humiliating subjugation by Spain, the old rival.

False Sebastians appeared

The popular belief at the time was that King Sebastiao would soon return to lead the country into a new future. False Sebastians emerged to seize power; the real one never returned. Sebastianism" has as firm a place in the popular soul of the Portuguese as the musical style of Fado ("destiny").

He, too, stands for melancholy looking back on former greatness, for misfortune, disappointed hopes – and for the longing for redemption through a political messiah. Even if Portugal's place today, after the endless Salazar dictatorship (1933-1974), is more in Europe than probably ever in its history.

The Lisbon earthquake of 1755, one of the most devastating natural disasters in Europe, changed the face of the city from one day to the next. The newly built city center, the "Baixa Pombalina" with the huge Praca do Comercio (Square of Commerce) and the monumental arch to the Rua Augusta is today one of the great tourist attractions.

Third Pope in history?

With the strong man of that time, Portugal's First Minister Sebastiao Jose de Carvalho e Mello, Marques de Pombal (1699-1782), Pope Francis, the Jesuit from Latin America, will have a reunion here, if only in historical perspective: it was Marques de Pombal who, from 1759 onward, led the expulsion of the Jesuits from Paraguay and Latin America. A serious setback for the missionary and economically successful order, which had attracted the envy of the colonial powers. Other countries took the ball from Portugal: France followed in 1764, Spain in 1767.

Francis could be the third pope in history to visit Lisbon. Benedict XVI. came in May 2010, John Paul II. in May 1982 and May 1991. Fatima was always the main focus of the visit – but Francis was already there in 2017.

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