The legions of Catholics that have come from around the world to participate in the World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro don’t need to worry if they suddenly feel the urge to unload their sinful chest ― some 100 portable, sleek confessionals have been placed in several points across the city.
They are available in several languages and are open to all for as long as the events are running.
But surely all eyes will be on one of them Friday, when Pope Francis himself will administer the sacrament to five randomly-chosen people.
Three men and two women – three Brazilians, one Venezuelan and one Italian – were selected in a draw made from the WYD’s registration system on May 24, the day of Mary Help of Christians.
“Some were thrilled, others said it was a joke,” Pastoral Preparation Department Director Father Arnaldo Rodrigues told the WYD Rio2013 website. “Many said that they were happy enough just to attend the event with [the] Pope and were ecstatic to have been surprised by the choice. In the words of one of the penitent[s], ‘I do not know how I can repay this great gift.’”
Instead of choosing by country, Rodrigues said the draw was conducted by language. The names of the five lucky Catholics were not released.
These portable confessionals are special to this year’s World Youth Day celebrations, and were designed by Spanish architect Ignacio de Ozone. Fundamentally built with two intersecting white wooden plates, the penitent kneels on one side of the partition as the priest is seated on the other. At the top of the confessional stands a wooden cross.
De Ozone said his inspiration came from a certain view of Corcovado, the mountain that supports the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue.
“I’m happy that many people will use them,” Ozone said, according to the WYD website. “The more the merrier.”