By Francis X. Rocca
Religion News Service
VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pilgrims at next month's Catholic World Youth Day in Madrid will have some high-tech help in their devotions, thanks to a new iPhone app unveiled at the Vatican on Friday (July 29).
World Youth Day (WYD), an international gathering held every three years in a different city, will take place August 16-21, culminating on the final day with an outdoor Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. In 2005, the last time the event was held in Europe, a papal Mass in Cologne, Germany, drew an estimated 1 million.
The new iJPII app, named for Pope John Paul II, who held the first WYD in 1986, offers a selection of prayers and poems by the late pontiff, and photos of him and his successor. Among the inspirational videos is one of the opera singer Leontyne Price performing the "Ave Maria."
The app, which also works on the Apple iPad and iPod devices, will provide continuously updated information about World Youth Day activities, directions to recommended restaurants and lodgings, and a sightseeing guide to Madrid. WYD participants will be able to track each other's location via GPS, using a social networking utility included in the app.
The iJPII app comes in five different languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. Designers said that a version in Benedict's native German was not prepared because of time constraints.
The app will be available in the Apple app store on August 1 for the price of 3.99 euros ($5.70). Designers say that they plan to introduce versions for Android, BlackBerry and Symbian smartphones for similar events in the future, perhaps in time for next year's International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin.