The Pope is the first person to sign up for World Youth Day via iPad

Pope Francis on Sunday became the first person registered for next year's World Youth Day festivities, with the pontif using an iPad to sign up while addressing thousands of pilgrims and tourists in Saint Peter's Square.

Pope Francis

"Thanks to this electronic device, I signed up as a simple pilgrim," Francis said, declaring himself the first person registered for next edition of the Youth Day celebration while two Polish youths looked on.

The next edition of the global meeting of Catholic youths will be held July, 2016 in Krakow, Poland. The most recent edition took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2013, shortly after Francis' election as pope.

In Krakow, an electronic clock was installed on the Renaissance Holy Mary Basilica to count the days remaining until the event,  which was initiated by Polish-born St. John Paul II.

Before the digital sign up for the event, the Pope appealed for the release of Italian Jesuit priest Paola Dall'Oglio, who was kidnapped in Syria two years ago.

In addition to calling for Dall'Oglio's liberation, Francis also called for "renewed engagement by local and international authorities" to secure the release of all hostages being held in the war-ravaged country.

Next year's event will be the 31st edition of World Youth day which was founded in Rome in 1986 by Pope John Paul II, the first Polish pontiff who had also served as Archbishop of Krakow.

It has since been held in countries on four continents.

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