Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday attended an ecumenical gathering of around 40,000 young people in Rome's St Peter's Square.

The young Christians -- Catholics, Protestants and Orthodox -- came to Rome as part of a European meeting of the Taize community, an ecumenical monastic order in Taize in eastern France.

"To meet 40,000 young people from across Europe is extraordinary," said a 26-year-old participant from the Paris region. "I came for that, not to see the pope."

Attendants were between 16 and 35 years old, many from Poland.

The gathering was part of a six-day meeting in Rome which ends on Wednesday.

Previous gatherings have taken place in the city in 1980, 1982 and 1987.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]