Cristina Saunders, a mother from the Diocese of Birmingham, Ala., expressed her excitement to EWTN about her experience at World Youth Day 2023 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Saunders said her 18-year-old son, Charlie could not attend the week-long gathering because his college classes will begin soon. However, she brought a cardboard cutout of his head to the event to represent his presence.

"He didn't get to come with us," Saunders told EWTN. "He's moving to college today, and we thought it was really important for him to make connections at college that first week before school starts."

Saunders said her son's picture helps him "feel the love back in Birmingham."

"We want Charlie to be a part of it, and so this is how we made him a part of it," she said. "People are taking pictures with him, they're praying for him, they're sending him videos, and he's just feeling the love back in Birmingham."

The Alabama native then expressed how the atmosphere at World Youth Day 2023 is "miraculous."

"We are loving it. You can see Jesus' presence everywhere. People are standing out in the heat and the sun. Nobody wanted to move because they want to be close to Jesus. They want to be there in adoration, we're all standing here hoping to get a glimpse of the Pope," Saunders said with excitement.

"It's been miraculous. It's just miraculous."

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Say a prayer for all World Youth Day participants!

Official World Youth Day 2023 Prayer

Our Lady of the Visitation,
you who arose and went with haste into the hill country to meet Elizabeth,
lead us also to encounter all those who await us
to deliver them the living Gospel: Jesus Christ, your Son, and our Lord!

We, too, will go in haste, without distraction or delay,
but with readiness and joy.
We will go with peace because those who bring Christ bring peace, and well-being comes from being generous and loving in our deeds.

Our Lady of the Visitation,
through your inspiration, this World Youth Day
will be a shared celebration of Christ, whom we bring to others, just as you did.

Please make this a time of testimony and sharing, of fraternity and thanksgiving,
with each of us looking for opportunities to give to those who are waiting to receive.
With you, we will continue on this path of encounter so that our world will join us, too, in fraternity, justice, and peace.

Help us, Our Lady of the Visitation,
to bring Christ to everyone,
in obedience to the Father
and in the love of the Holy Spirit!


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