Spain Rejoices In News of Papal Visit

Mar 6th, 2010 | By | Category: Signs of the Times (click on article name)

Spain Rejoices In News of Papal Visit

Bishops Ready to Help “in All That’s Needed”

Church of the Sagrada Familia

MADRID, Spain, MARCH 3, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The news of Benedict XVI’s trip to Barcelona and Santiago de Compostela in November “fills the Church in Spain with joy,” say the nation’s bishops.

The episcopal conference of Spain expressed jubilation Wednesday after Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach of Barcelona and Archbishop Julián Barrio of Santiago de Compostela announced that Benedict XVI would visit the two cities this November.

The Pontiff will visit Santiago de Compostela on Nov. 6 for the Jacobeo Holy Year, and go to Barcelona the next day to consecrate that city’s Church of the Holy Family (also known as the Church of the Sagrada Familia).

The holy year in Santiago de Compostela celebrates St. James the Apostle, who is the patron of Spain. The saint’s feast day is July 25, and a holy year is celebrated each year that the feast falls on a Sunday. The apostle’s tomb is located in the city’s cathedral.

The Church of the Holy Family, designed by Antoni Gaudí, is a religious monument that has been declared patrimony of humanity. Construction on the church began in 1882. While the structure is expected to be completed in 2026, a portion of the building’s interior is set to be opened this September.

The bishops’ conference stated in a communiqué that it was committed to collaborate with both archdioceses “in all that’s needed.”

“All the faithful and Christian communities are invited to raise prayers, beginning now, for the happy outcome of the Holy Father’s visit and for its apostolic fruits,” the note added.

Spiritual preparation

Cardinal Martínez Sistach, speaking at the press conference this week announcing the visit, invited the faithful to prepare spiritually for the Pontiff’s visit: “Let’s all dispose ourselves to prepare this visit of the Holy Father and let us prepare it with prayer and with solidarity toward the poor and the needy.

“We must manifest our gratitude with our affection for the Holy Father, with our constant prayer for his ministry of Successor of the Apostle Peter at the service of the whole Church and with our filial, devoted and enthusiastic hospitality when he comes to our city of Barcelona and is among us.”

“The presence of the Pope in the consecration of this Church of the Holy Family manifests the importance that marriage and the family have for the good of persons, of the Church and of society, and how one must work at the service of the defense and help of families,” the cardinal added.

Cardinal Martínez Sistach called the Church of the Holy Family “the most important church, for its artistic significance, which has been built in the world.” He noted that it is “known worldwide and visited by millions of people from all countries of the five continents.”

Pilgrim of faith

Archbishop Julián Barrio of Santiago de Compostela gave his “heartfelt thanks to the Holy Father for wishing to come to Santiago as a pilgrim of faith, giving witness of the Risen Christ.”

“For us, it is truly a great joy to receive the Holy Father here,” he added, pointing out that “this, without a doubt, will help all of us to encourage our Christian hope at a time when we truly need this spiritual impulse.”

“The moment we are living isn’t easy,” the archbishop said. “We must revitalize our faith in order to revitalize social coexistence and all that refers to the concerns we are experiencing.

“This revitalization will come form the light of faith and will help us to find the adequate solutions — that we all want — in keeping with the principles and fundamentals of our faith.”

Significant

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, told reporters that the consecration of the altar of the Church of the Holy Family is “a significant act which also shows appreciation for the figure and art of this architect whose process of beatification is under way.”

He also referred to Santiago de Compostela as a “center of great European significance.”

The details and ceremonies of the papal visit are yet to be defined, as it was not included initially in the calendar of trips for this year.

The November trip will be Benedict XVI’s second to Spain, after the 2006 World Meeting of Families he attended in Valencia.

He is scheduled to visit Spain for a third time in August 2011 for World Youth Day in Madrid.

The November trip will also be the fifth international papal trip of 2010, along with those planned for Malta (April 17-18), Portugal (May 11-14), Cyprus (June 4-6) and the United Kingdom (Sept. 17-19).

Benedict XVI is also planning pastoral visits to the Italian localities of Turin, Sulmona, Carpineto Romano and Palermo.

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