Hands across the world

WHEN Xavier Catholic College students Madeline Ilic and Dominic Douglas touched the symbols of World Youth Day on Monday, they felt like they were touching hands with people from all around the world.

The Cross and Icon a framed picture of Mary travel the world in the lead-up to each World Youth Day, which is held every two years.

They have been on the road since last year's event in Cologne.

And they will stay on the road until the 23rd World Youth Day to be held in Sydney from July 15-20 next year more than 500,000 people are expected to take part.

The event also will mark the first visit to Australia of Pope Benedict XVI.

Madeline, 16, was given the opportunity of helping carry the Cross at Byron Bay on Monday morning, while Dominic, 17, helped carry the Icon at dawn from the Bryon Bay lighthouse.

"I just think it has gone around the world and so many times and so many other people have shared the same experience," Dominic said on Monday afternoon while waiting for the arrival of the symbols at Xavier Catholic College.

The symbols have been to the demilitarised zone between North and South Korea, they have been to Ground Zero in New York and have been to East and West Berlin in the days when the wall dividing the city was still up.

Madeline said she was proud that her school was given the honour of hosting the Cross and Icon out of all the Catholic schools in the region.

About 200 people attended the celebrations at the school on Monday evening, which included fireworks.

The Cross and Icon were paraded over the headland from Boulder Beach to Sharps Beach where they were met by local priest, Father Michael Nilon.

Students carrying national flags then joined the procession to Xavier Catholic College at Skennars Head. Madeline said the Cross was heavy.

It weighs 40kg, and stands at 3.8 metres high with a span of 1.75 metres.

Travelling with the Cross and Icon on its Australian tour is an Aboriginal message stick, which is an invitation to Indigenous Australians to take part in World Youth Day. The Cross and Icon left Ballina for Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads on Tuesday.

From there, the symbols were handed on to Toowoomba Diocese for their Queensland tour.

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