Spanish Royals welcome Pope Benedict XVI
Last Saturday, September 6th, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, arrived in Spain on the occasion of the beginning of his apostolic visit to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona. The propose of the journey is to mark the Holy Year of Compostela, because the feast of St. James, July 25, fell on a Sunday this year, 2010 marks a holy year. The other focus of the trip was to consecrate the Sagrada Familia Church into a Basilica. The church is Barcelona’s biggest and most beautiful church, although is un-finished.
Pope Benedict’s plane landed at Lavacolla Airport in Santiago at Saturday morning, he was received at the foot of the stairs by Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia. During the welcoming ceremony, the Holy Father said he came to Spain “as a pilgrim in this Holy Year of Compostela.” “I wish to join the great host of men and women who down the centuries have come to Compostela from every corner of this peninsula, from throughout Europe and indeed the whole world, in order to kneel at the feet of Saint James and be transformed by the witness of his faith,” he added in Spanish.
After a private meeting with the Prince and Princess of Asturias and representatives of the Spanish government, the Pope visited Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, where as the tradition says, the relics of the apostle St. James (Santiago in Spanish) are buried. Compostela has been a pilgrim destination for centuries and still today, thousands of people walk from all over the world to visit the cathedral and the tomb of apostle Santiago. A couple of months ago, the Prince and Princess of Asturias covered the last kilometers of the ‘Santiago Journey’ also on the occasion of the holy year.
“In this Holy Year of Compostela, I too, as the Successor of Peter, wished to come in pilgrimage to the ‘House of Saint James’, as it prepares to celebrate the eight-hundredth anniversary of its consecration,” the Pope addressed during the visit to the Cathedral. Benedict XVI also had a few minutes to pray at the tomb of Santiago.
In the afternoon, he celebrated a holy mass at Obradoiro Square to celebrate the Compostelian Jubilee. The mass was attended by almost 7.000 people plus Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia.
On Sunday in Barcelona, where he arrived the night before, the Pope consecrated the Sagrada Familia Church into a Basilica in the presence of the Spanish King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.
Antoni Gaudi, the architect, began it construction in 1882, but he died in 1926 before it was finished. It completion is set for 2026, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of Gaudi’s death. Even though church services are held in the uncompleted church, it has never been formally consecrated. It is a UNESCO World Heritage since 1984.
Once the consecration mass finished, the Pope prayed to the Angelus Domini in the square in front of the Sagrada Familia Bisilica.
At night the Pope, King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia attended a farewell ceremony at Barcelona Airport. Benedict VXI expressed his gratitude “for the many constant and touching gestures of attention offered in these days to the Pope, clear signs of the openness and hospitality characteristic of the people of these lands so dear to my heart.”
Before his departure, Benedict XVI had an audience with Prime Minister Zapatero and the King and Queen. The Pope will visit Spain again in August 2011 to celebrate World Youth Day.Filed under Spanish Royals
Tagged Audience, Felipe VI, Juan Carlos I, Official Visit, Pope Benedict XVI, Prime Minister Zapatero, Queen Letizia, Queen Sofia, Religion.