Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Sunday 14 April |
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Pilgrim en route to WYD in Lisbon dies in car accident

Young people praying during the WYD in Krakow, Poland, in 2016

© Marcin Mazur /

Young people praying during the WYD in Krakow, Poland, in 2016

I.Media - published on 08/01/23

Three other people were injured, including two more WYD pilgrims.

On Sunday, July 30, 2023, a 23-year-old woman — identified in news sources only by her first name, Mahaut — from the Diocese of Poitiers, France, heading to the World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, was killed in a car accident. She was joining a group from the Diocese of Angers preparing to leave for the event by bus.

In a statement, Archbishop Pascal Wintzer of Poitiers and Bishop Emmanuel Delmas of Angers invited everyone to “share in the sorrow of the young people, friends, and family of Mahaut, and to join them in prayer.”

Three more people injured

Three young women were involved in the car accident near Doué-en-Anjou, say the two bishops. Coming from the Diocese of Poitiers, they were joining a group from the Diocese of Angers on their way to Lisbon.

Mahaut, aged 23, lost her life in the accident. The other two passengers suffered injuries and were treated by emergency services, then by teams from the CHU hospital in Angers. Their prognosis is not life-threatening. Another person was also injured in the accident. The two bishops note that an investigation by the gendarmerie is underway, and that a psychological support unit has been set up for the young people in the group.

Not the first incident

Nearly a million people are expected in Lisbon for the WYD. The event will close on Sunday, August 6, in the presence of Pope Francis.

Last week, a young man traveling with a delegation from Mauritius was involved in a serious road accident in the Santiago de Compostela region of Spain. He is still in the hospital.

“We entrust all the young people and participants in WYD 2023 to the protection of St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers,” said the French Bishops’ Conference in a statement published on July 31. 

In July 2013, the WYD in Rio de Janeiro was marked by the death of Sophie Morinière, a young girl from the Diocese of Paris, in a bus accident in French Guiana ahead of the gathering in Brazil. In a telegram to the bishop of Cayenne, Pope Francis conveyed his condolences to the victim’s family and expressed his sorrow. He also invited the young people gathered in Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Square to “observe a minute’s silence and pray to God for Sophie, for the injured, and for their families.”

PortugalWorld Youth Day
Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.