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Archbishop Aquila honors DANA’s performance of ‘We Are One Body’ at WYD 1993

Over the last several days, we’ve been looking back at Pope St. John Paul II’s historic visit to Denver for World Youth Day 1993 and reliving the rich memories of the event.

Among those memories is the debut performance of the song “We Are One Body” by DANA, a song that is sung today at churches all around the world. Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila has written a letter honoring the song and expressing his gratitude for Dana’s contribution.

Dana recalls the day fondly and what it was like performing the song not only for the 100,000 pilgrims gathered in Mile High Stadium that day, but also for the Holy Father himself.

“Nothing could have prepared me for the incredible reaction when we all finished singing the last line of the song, hands clasped and arms raised in the air, ‘We are one body, one Body in Christ. And he came that we might have life,'” Dana wrote in a reflection on the day.

Though she was told there would be no chance of meeting the Pope, to her surprise, he desired an audience with her after she performed the song.

“There was a moment of silence; then the stadium erupted with prolonged applause and cheers. I think I was in shock. Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and as I looked up, a priest said, ‘Follow me. The Holy Father would like to meet you.’

“It’s a moment I’ll never forget, and it was a moment that millions shared with me in a personal way, for so many people have told me that when the Pope put his arms around me, they felt as though he had put his arms around them, too.”

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A clipping from the Aug. 18, 1993 World Youth Day commemorative issue of the Denver Catholic Register. (File photo)

Read the full letter from Archbishop Aquila below:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As we commemorate the 30th anniversary of St. John Paul II’s historic visit to Denver for World Youth Day in 1993, many of you might not be aware that this event that changed Denver served as the inspiration for a beautiful song that is now sung at Catholic Churches around the world.

“We Are One Body” was written and performed by DANA, an Irish-Catholic performing artist, for the first time in 1993. As DANA recounts the story, following the inaugural performance of the song to the pilgrims who sang along, “There was a moment of silence, then the stadium erupted with prolonged applause and cheers. Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and as I looked up, a priest said, “Follow me. The Holy Father Would like to meet you.”

The lyrics of the song are as relevant today as they were 30 years ago, and indeed, they are words which echo throughout the entire history of the Church: “We are one body, one body in Christ / and we do not stand alone / We are one body, one body in Christ / and he came that we might have life.”

Providentially, the song also beautifully complements the current Eucharistic Revival of the Church in the United States. Subsequent lines of the song go: “When you eat my body and you drink my blood / I will live in you and you will live in my love.”

I would like to express my deep gratitude to DANA for her contribution of “We Are One Body” to World Youth Day in 1993. May the Lord continue to reach people through the lyrics of the song, which serve as an ever-pertinent reminder that “We are one body, one body in Christ.”

Yours in Christ,
Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila

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