Germans are known for being punctual, so perhaps it should be no surprise that Pope Benedict XVI was the first person signed up for World Youth Day 2013.
Registration officially opened Aug. 28, and, according to organizers, the pope was the first pilgrim to be registered for the event, which will be held in Rio de Janeiro July 23-28.
Organizers said that more than 220 groups of young people from five continents signed up in the first 24 hours after registration opened. Pilgrims from the United States, Canada, Australia, China, Aruba and the United Arab Emirates were among the first of the early registrants.
Groups of up to 50 people are encouraged to book early, organizers said. Registration should be done online on the official WYD Rio 2013 website, www.rio2013.com
The missionary outreach of young people is set to be a key focus of next year's gathering, as the theme is from the Gospel of St. Matthew, "Go and make disciples of all nations!"
The opening Mass, the papal welcoming ceremony and the Way of the Cross celebration will be held at Copacabana beach, according to organizers.
The youth vigil and closing Mass will be held at the city's Santa Cruz military air base.
The last World Youth Day was held in Madrid in 2011 and was attended by more than 1.5 million people.