Saturday's prayer vigil in Paul VI Hall concluded the 2nd European Day of University Students, promoted by the Council of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe.
University students in 10 cities were linked by satellite. The cities were Prague, Czech Republic; Nicosia, Cyprus; Gniezno, Poland; Vilnius, Lithuania; Riga, Latvia; Tallinn, Estonia; Lubiana, Slovenia; Budapest, Hungary; Valletta, Malta; and Bratislava, Slovakia. Those countries will become members of the European Union in May.
"This Marian vigil has an intense symbolic character," the Pope said. "You also, dear university students, are entrusted with an important role in the building of a united Europe, firmly established in the traditions and spiritual values that have shaped it."
"In this connection, the university constitutes one of the typical realms in which that culture, which has been formed through the centuries, has exerted a characteristic Christian influence," the Holy Father said. "It is necessary not to lose this rich legacy of ideals."
The young people responded to the Pope's address with loud applause and encouraging cries. The Holy Father concluded with a greeting to the youths, of the 10 European cities linked by satellite, in their languages.
The young people's cross, which John Paul II gave them for the first World Youth Day, was present during the vigil.
When the vigil ended, the cross was taken in procession by youths from the Vatican to Piazza Navona, to the Church of St. Agnes. The Pope recently declared the latter the church of young people in Rome.